As The Franciscan School’s class of 2022 was finishing their first year of middle school, everything changed. Schools closed their doors, families were locked down, and life went virtual. As this same class started their second year of middle school, they juggled a hybrid of virtual school and in-person, all while wearing masks and enduring canceled athletic seasons and after-school activities. Their final year at TFS saw more normal activities resume, but many things were still different, like starting school with masks, reduced field trips, and continuing in cohorts.
But through it all, the class of 2022 has been resilient, positive, and grown in the face of adversity. They will get to experience the full traditional celebration of 8th graders, and it comes well deserved. “The past two years, these special events have been scaled back because of COVID-19, and we are thrilled that this amazing class gets to participate in it all,” says Principal Mike Watson.
We polled the 8th graders to learn a little about what’s been the most challenging part of their last year. We heard answers like homework, the advanced curriculum, time management, working in cohorts, navigating workloads, and some of the lingering changes from COVID-19. But instead of focusing on the things they’ve missed out on, the 8th graders have reminisced on their best moments during their time at TFS. Many have said it’s the Blue Jay Point field trip in 5th grade, field day, and visiting Washington, D.C., which they finally got to participate in this spring. TFS 8th grader Madison Blaes shared, “I love the teacher-student relationship with all the teachers, and the way that the grade has a bond and relationship together.”
For the 8th graders, the school takes special care to equip these students with responsibilities and opportunities. They are prayer buddies with the kindergarteners, guiding them throughout the year. “We trust them and believe in all they have learned here about being kind and caring,” says Watson. “We certainly are confident in entrusting them with our kindergarteners. They do a great job with kindergarten at Mass and in setting the example of a TFS student- it’s why we do it.”
In the fall, these 83 graduating students will begin their next adventure: high school. About 65-70% of them will attend Cardinal Gibbons High School, 25% will attend Leesville Road High School, and the rest will attend other nearby high schools. Watson shares, “It's a bittersweet time, but we are happy in knowing this class is ready to embrace their futures.”
As the students say goodbye to each other and the school, they’ll remember what they loved most about the school many have attended for the last nine years: morning prayer, friendships, after-school programs, the wonderful teachers, field trips, and the close community that has made TFS what it is today. As 8th grader Peter Hoffman shared, “I will miss how we gather at morning prayer and say prayers together as a school to start the day. I have always found that time to be very peaceful and a wonderful opportunity to pray and relax before 1st period.”
Farewell, graduates. Thank you for your leadership, your endurance, and your friendship. May God guide you and bless you in your next days as you go out and change the world.