Celebrating the Class of 2021
June 9, 2021
On Tuesday, June 8, Wilmington Montessori School proudly celebrated the Class of 2021 - Maya Connelly, Cooper Giles, Everett Giles, Tomasz Saarloos, Anand Simon and Asad Sultan - the school's third class of eighth-grade graduates.
In a year when we spent more time than ever exploring our campus, it was fitting that we held our graduation ceremony outdoors. Last year, our graduates and their families attended the Class of 2020's graduation ceremony via Zoom. This year, we were thrilled to be able to hold a small in-person gathering.

Head of School Lisa Lalama began the ceremony by reflecting on the graduates' long history at WMS:

"The six of you have come to us through various times in your lives - some as babies and toddlers and others in elementary school. You have grown up with true Montessori experiences - from the pink tower to the red rods, the checkerboard, squaring materials, fraction skittles, grammar materials, Great Lessons and so much more."

She went on to speak about the Montessori philosophy and how it shapes the learning process at WMS over the years, continuing into middle school.
"[Dr. Montessori] understood how we learn, what we needed to build our learning experiences, and that each of us is different in how we learn and what experiences we need to build the knowledge that helps us learn and grow. She understood that we are individuals - not a group of children who must do everything in the same way at the same time simply because of the year we were born and the grade we are in! That is how traditional education approaches ‘school.’ She designed school for learning, and you were fortunate enough to spend your time at WMS learning in the best ways possible - through the Montessori pedagogy and philosophy."

As she concluded her speech, Lisa spoke about the challenges of the past year and a half and shared her optimism for the future.

"Throughout the past year or so, we’ve all learned about the ways life can shift right before us... As the year has gone on, you’ve had a few more experiences similar to those originally intended to be a part of your middle school experience. You participated in Montessori Model United Nations, went on field trips - some virtually, another in person - way different than in the past, but most importantly you got to leave the grounds for a little while. You also had the unique opportunity to participate in internships throughout the campus. You’ve read to younger students, helped with gardens, taught Lower Elementary students the rules and strategies of football, and helped Primary students build bird houses - just to name a few ways you’ve served the WMS community.

For you see - what matters always is connection and interaction. This past year or so has put some of that on hold. Now we are able to go out a bit more, and hopefully by the time you enter high school in the fall, you will be able to have the high school experience that you have hoped for. We wish you the best and want you to please stay in touch!"

Alumni Speaker Michael Jones
Lisa then introduced this year's alumni speaker, Michael Jones, who graduated from WMS in 2012. Michael currently attends the University of Maryland, where he is studying mechanical engineering and is section leader for the Mighty Sound of Maryland's drumline.

In his speech, Michael shared the many ways in which his WMS education prepared him for high school and college.

"Looking back toward my own WMS experience, I am still extremely thankful I had the opportunities that I did. Opportunities - some of which included strengthening skills in math/science/technology, writing and performing 'unique' skits for the talent show, participating in summer camp, and even simply playing wall ball at recess - all had important lessons whether I knew it at the time or not. From my experiences at WMS, I realize I was able to make my education my own, find my own path, and build skills that would serve me for the rest of my life. As students of WMS, you too have made your own paths and developed interests both in and outside the classroom. You have shown curiosity in the world you live in, and shown that you care to make it a better place in your own unique way. The experiences you’ve had here have begun to shape you into caring, curious and determined individuals who strive to live a life of learning, which will help you in all your future academic, professional and social endeavors."

Middle School Reflections
After Michael's speech, the middle-schoolers took the stage! First, seventh-grader Sadie Heiger shared memories of her year with the graduates (click here to watch). After she shared her congratulations, the eighth-graders began their speeches.

Each graduate was challenged to select a quote that had meaning to them and explain how it related to their time at WMS. The quotes came from a variety of sources, ranging from Nobel prize winning theoretical physicist Richard Feynman to Barack Obama to the movie character "Ricky Bobby."

Words from Middle School Teacher Mandy Balanetsky
Following the graduates' presentations, lead Middle School teacher Mandy Balanetsky reflected on the eighth-graders' two years at WMS:
"Their growth during these last two years has been incredible. While anyone can learn how to solve algebraic equations anywhere, I can guarantee you that what your children have learned over these past two years is more important than finding the value of 'x' ... They have learned how to listen to understand and not respond, how to conduct research and gather data when learning more about important world issues, how to empathize with others, how to respectfully challenge each other, how to give back to the community, how to seek help and information when they need to learn a new concept, how to present and speak to a crowd, and most impressively, how to have a civil and productive conversation with someone who does not share the same belief or opinion that they do. These are the things that will lead them down the path of success, and I have no doubt that each and everyone one of them will utilize what they have learned from each other during their time at WMS while traveling their individual paths."

Memorable Moments - The Presentation of Diplomas & Celebrating with Family
The Class of 2021 is off to high school!
WMS graduates attend a variety of private and public schools after their graduation.

This year, the schools our graduates will attend include:

  • Cab Calloway School of the Arts

  • Charter School of Wilmington

  • Garnet Valley High School

  • The Tome School

We can't wait to hear about their future accomplishments!
Stay Connected
At WMS, alumni and their families are an important part of our community! Please stay in touch by emailing your news to alumni@wmsde.org and contact Noel if you'd like to continue to receive the Wednesday Weekly! You can also connect with us through FacebookInstagram and Twitter.
Give Back to WMS... Your Support Makes a Difference!
Gifts to WMS's Annual Fund help create the special WMS experiences our graduates remember. Donations support our classrooms filled with Montessori materials and state-of-the-art technology, allow us to continue the safety protocols that have kept us healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, help maintain our beautiful campus and enhance our outdoor learning curriculum, support our Montessori-trained teachers and arts programs, and allow us to offer financial aid so more children can benefit from a WMS education. Help us keep those traditions alive while we continue to create new learning opportunities for children. 

Every gift helps us keep WMS thriving for future generations! Visit www.wmsde.org/annualfund to make your tax-deductible gift to keep WMS strong!
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