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Class of 2021 Remembered at Middle School Final Assembly

On Wednesday, June 7, 2017, Germantown Academy's Middle School held its Final Assembly in the Arts Center Auditorium, where faculty and staff honored a number of students for excellence in academics, character, and service, and also said goodbye to the Class of 2021 as well as two longtime GA faculty members. (SEE PHOTOS)

Head of Middle School Jonas Jeswald opened the ceremony with a pop quiz, the correct answer to which was good for a personal Dress Down Day to carry into the first year of Upper School.

He asked, "What was the name of the song that I played exactly 1002 days ago (that is approximately 1,442,880 minutes ago) during the opening Morning Meeting of the 2014-2015 school year, when you were just starting your Middle School Journey as sixth graders?"

Mr. Jeswald did not even need to give a hint, as the hands shot up, and one lucky student correctly guessed, "Nothing More," by The Alternate Routes, a song that reminds us that, at the end of the day, what is most important is how we treat each other, and nothing more.

"Class of 2021, guess what?" he continued. "As we celebrate you today and you exit the Arts Center with only summer between you and your ninth grade year, I am going to send you off with another song to consider. And were it not for Señora Dwinell, I probably would still be talking about "Nothing More," so you can thank her for saving you from that. (Gracias, Señora!). Sit with me and listen to the first minute and thirty seconds...

"'When the dreams you're dreaming come to you, when the work you put in is realized, let yourself feel the pride, but always stay humble and kind.' During that Morning Meeting in 2014, I admitted that I have a soft spot in my heart for cheesy music, and the song we just heard, "Humble and Kind" by Tim McGraw, definitely counts as cheesy music. But it's a good song, with an important message. One of the reasons music is powerful is because it helps us to remember moments, people, and events. Whether it's a favorite song that reminds you of a close friend, or the time that you sang your heart out with your classmates to "Sweet Caroline" as it is played for the final song of your last Middle School Dance ever (sound familiar 8th graders?), music brings us together and connects us.

"Why do I like these two songs so much? Because they remind us that being Compassionate in Spirit is vitally important to being good community members and good people, and that doing so is not that difficult. Class of 2021, as you rise into ninth grade and become high schoolers, I am going to give you two presents. The first will be in your email inbox soon; I hope the gift will help you remember some of your Middle School moments, like this one today. Sometime later this week you will receive emails with links to be able to download both "Nothing More" and "Humble and Kind." Listen to them often and think of us! I know that these songs will become mainstays of ALL of your playlists!

"The second is a list of five things that you can do to be Compassionate in Spirit on a daily basis this summer and in the future. This list is not my own—I selected and adapted my five favorite habits out of eight that Lindsay Holmes discussed in a 2014 article in The Atlantic magazine. Be Compassionate in Spirit by:

  1. Finding commonalities with others.
  2. Being grateful and expressing gratitude.
  3. Being mindful and present in the moment.
  4. Being kind to yourself and others.
  5. Being empathetic by understanding and sharing the feelings of others.

"You have a fresh start as you transition into ninth grade. There will be new experiences, new teachers, and new classmates. I challenge you to take these gifts and double-down your efforts to be Compassionate in Spirit as you rise into high school.

"Classes of 2022 and 2023, take this summer as an opportunity to practice these five habits. Come back in September ready to work to become more Compassionate in Spirit, more humble, and more kind."

During the ceremony, the Middle School also acknowledged and thanked Middle School History Teacher Emily Rubinfield 1760 and Middle School Spanish Teacher Debbie Mersky 1760. Each has enjoyed a tenure of 30 years at GA.

In addition to Mr. Jeswald, the audience also heard from student speakers Jake B. '21 and Helen W. '21, Middle School History Teacher Mark Stephens, and Head of Upper School Chris Nelson. They also enjoyed performances by the Middle School Concert Band, String Ensemble, and Senior Chorus.

Mr. Jeswald closed the assembly by saying, "Thank you to the Department Heads, Head Advisors, Kate Cassidy, and Sarah Zimmerman for their leadership this year. Thank you to Jake, Helen, and Mark Stephens for their remarks today. To the Concert Band, String Ensemble, and Senior Chorus for their wonderful performances. Thank you to all of my colleagues—the faculty and staff—for a great year, and a special thank you to Miri Bilker for all of her work preparing for today, and to Paul Moffitt up in the booth, who has just completed his first Middle School Final Assembly. A special thank you to Emily and Mr. Templeton for today's slide show presentations. To the faculty and students who are moving on from GA after this year, we appreciate all you have done to contribute to our community and wish you the best!"


Art Award Helen W. '21
English Award Grace B. '21
Drama Award Mollie D. '21
History Award Finn L. '21
Latin Award Emily W. '21
Spanish Award Jade D. '21
French Award Finn L. '21
Chinese Award Daelyn N. '21
Mathematics Award Justin W. '21
General Music Award Ariel H. '21
Chorus Award Rachel R. '21
Concert Band Award Justin W. '21
String Ensemble Award Emily W. '21
Physical Education Award Rebecca B. '21
Science Award Ryan Q. '21


6th Grade Kershaw Award Melinda A. '23
6th Grade Kershaw Award Luke W. '23
6th Grade Wetherill Award Ethan O. '23
6th Grade Shipley Award Clarissa S. '23
6th Grade Faculty Award Drew S. '23
7th Grade Kershaw Award Caitlin B. '22
7th Grade Kershaw Award Jacob H. '22
7th Grade Wallace Award Allison D. '22
7th Grade Faculty Award Kwabena A. '22
7th/8th Grade Garvan Award Sophia T. '22
8th Grade Owen J. Roberts Award Helen W. '21
8th Grade Owen J. Roberts Award Ryan Q. '21
8th Grade Kast Award Priya A. '21
8th Grade Faculty Award Harry H. '21

CLICK HERE to see photos of the Middle School Final Assembly.