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Issue 587

05/10/2012 at 4:24pm
Cement SignaturesSchool Year Wrapping
Up in Grand Style

School children on Fort Myers Beach are anxious to reach the end of the current school year and get busy with fun, summertime activities. None are more excited than the outgoing fifth graders at Fort Myers Beach Elementary, who graduate May 24th and prepare for the transition to middle school.

Summer Johnson, a Fort Myers Beach fifth grader, is headed next school year to Lexington Middle School, 16351 Summerlin Road, along with many of her classmates. She chose Lexington because it's a "nice school” and her friends are going there. Johnson looks most forward to making new friends at the off-island school located closest to the beach. Before attending her first classes there, she plans to travel to Canada and Puerto Rico to visit family.

Johnson's classmate, Allison Graeber-Witt, is also headed to Lexington, where both her brother and sister attended. She said her siblings had a good experience there and she likes the middle school's "sports focus.” Graeber-Witt looks forward to "meeting new people and playing volleyball, soccer and track.” She has travel plans over the summer break to include a one or two-week trip to New York. Her summer plans include Vacation Bible School at a church near Iona, as well.

Taylor Harlan also looks forward to meeting new friends and conquering "the middle school experience” at nearby Lexington. When asked what she thinks will be the best part of sixth grade, Harlan responded, "I'll enjoy more freedom in what I do at school.” She was referring to the flexible class schedule and the movement between classrooms. Like her classmates, Harlan has plans to travel and visit family in Colorado and Chicago.

Fifth grader Bryana McCarthy, who the Sand Paper found working with Johnson, Graeber-Witt and Harlan on the elementary school year book, is headed this August to Bonita Springs Middle School, 10141 West Terry Street. McCarthy plans to participate in that school's gifted program. "For math, I'll be in sixth and seventh grade level classes,” she says. "Then, I'll take Algebra and Geometry in seventh and eighth grades for high school credit.” Before hitting the books at Bonita Middle, as it is known by locals, she plans to take trips to Key Largo and to Maine for camping.

Ulises Santiago has a sister at Lexington Middle School and a brother who went there, as well. He told the paper he has lofty goals, like "making the soccer team and straight A's.” Santiago knows the campus well and adds, "I like sports and it's a sporty school.” Before hitting the soccer fields next fall, he plans to attend Summer Day Camp at Beach Baptist, where he'll get plenty of exercise and time with his friends.

Island native Tora Jaye also refers to her future school, Lexington, as a "sporty school.” That appeals to her because her interests lie in soccer and volleyball. Different classes, teachers and moving to different classrooms are what appeals to her the most about middle school. Tora plans to spend the summer taking photography classes at Bay Oaks, offered by her mom and Sand Paper photographer, Sarah List. The rest of her summer will be spent at Beach Baptist's Day Camp.

Kevin Cherry didn't get his first choice of middle schools, which was Lexington, but instead was placed at Fort Myers Middle Academy, 3050 Central Avenue. His family is working with the school district to get that changed. In the meantime, he plans to enjoy the summer at Sailing Camp or Bay Oaks. Cherry says most of his friends are going to Lexington and that he'd like to go there so he can try something new, like boxing.

Because Fort Myers Beach falls within sub-zone two of Lee County School District's South Zone, students on the island can rank all six middle schools in preference order. The district's website says, "Every attempt will be made to assign students to the highest preference school possible.” Parents can request an in-zone transfer or a waiver to have their student placed at a different school by contacting one of three Student Assignment Offices, or they can visit studentassignment.leeschools.net for details. The six middle schools in the South Zone are Bonita Springs, Cypress Lake, Fort Myers, Lexington, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Three Oaks. As of December 7, 2011, Lexington had the highest enrollment of the six with a total of 910 students.

All Fort Myers Beach Elementary fifth graders are afforded an end-of-the-year field trip to Busch Gardens in Tampa, thanks to the school's Parent-Teacher Organization. The PTO and Beach Kiwanis provide funding for transportation and admission to the park for the Thursday, May 17th, trip. Fifth grade students signed a behavior contract in April and are monitored for six weeks to ensure that they've earned the privilege, said Principal Larry Wood.

"It is always a fun day full of excitement,” says fifth grade teacher Joy Rockwell. "Many chaperones are going so there will be small groups of two or three kids per adult. The kids look forward to it every year.”

The school will hold an awards night Monday, May 21st, during the last week of school to recognize fifth grade students for their achievements. The ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Dolphin Café.

On the last day of school, May 24th, fifth graders will take a ceremonial parade walk around the courtyard, while their underclassmen cheer them on and wish them well. It is how the other students and staff say farewell and thanks for a job well done, according to School Secretary Renee Mulloy.

The Island Sand Paper congratulates our overachieving fifth grade students and wishes them luck in whichever middle school they attend.

Chris Doyle

(image cement.... is for this. Those are the signatures of the graduating class at beach elementary school)