Supportive and empowered: Hillside Middle School graduation

Thanking teachers and students

We can never spend enough time recognizing the good things, going on in our communities. Hillside Middle School graduation on June 13 gave us all more reason to just do that, and to be proud of these young people growing up in our community.

Hillside Middle School graduated 235 eighth graders to the cheers and encouragement of family and friends who filled the grandstand adjacent to Trinity athletic field where graduation took place.

Everything about this event with the Hillside Hawks community showed off leadership by example. Principal Brendan McCafferty and his staff consistently empowered and encouraged the students to be their best.

One might wonder how close to 300 chairs got to the field and back.

It’s not easy to stand up in front of more than 200 of your peers and speak with a stand full of parents and siblings behind you.

It takes a certain amount of grace to walk the long distance down from the staging area to the seating midfield in the bright afternoon sun knowing all eyes are upon you.

If you are a band member or part of the chorus, you know the entire audience is tuned to your performance.

What stood out most was how kind and supportive the students were of each other.

With a celebratory dance after graduation, many of the students were all dressed up for the occasion. Classy, fun-loving, good-natured spirit all around.

The pledge of allegiance and the singing was preceded by Principal McCafferty leading a moment of silence to “stop and remember all those who helped the 8th grade graduates get to this milestone and are not here to share in the occasion.”  The absence was undefined, and it came across in a loving and meaningful way.

Some highlights of supportive & empowered students

  • The general kindness of the students to each other in this moment in time.
  • The often loud cheering sections from the grandstands as each of the 235 names were called out to receive their certificate.
  • The 2023-2024 Principal’s Awards to a large handful of students
  • The Maggie Philbrook Award –recognizing the legacy of a girl who embodied kindness and friendship with everyone she touched.  Now 10 years since she passed but her Hillside and Smyth Road families still remember and continue to be inspired by her influence and presence.
  • Band teacher, Mr. Redmond, who chose to play with the band and have one of the seventh grade students conduct in his place. That’s another vote of confidence and empowerment of this rising generation.
Band teacher Mr. Matthew Redmond pointing to the conductor – a reminder it was not him but a seventh grader – a member of the band who would be conducting the performance. photo | Keith Spiro

Empowering others and sitting in as just one of the horn players, Mr. Redmond, in gray cap, can be seen in the rear. photo | Keith Spiro

Congratulations to all.