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Eighth Graders at Our Private Boarding School Rise to the Upper School

Many of the eighth grade graduates were recognized for their participation in the Middle School Interact Club, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Warren County.

As Randolph-Macon Academy continues on its path embracing “The Power of Rise,” personnel on campus have sought to make changes that bring improvements while still maintaining tradition. Sometimes, that is a monumental change, such as the changes in the academic programs to incorporate lessons that are more project-based, collaborative, creative, and problem-solving, while still holding to the Academy’s primary mission to be a college-prep school. Other times, it is a smaller change, one that is still visible to students and their families. 

This year, the staff at R-MA Middle School made both of these changes, and it was capped off with the combining of the Middle School Awards Ceremony with the Eighth Grade Promotion Ceremony. 

“There were several reasons for the change,” said R-MA Middle School Principal Tony Ballard. “The first was an academic one. There is still one more exam period on that Thursday morning before the promotion ceremony. Having the students attend an awards ceremony, study, and pack up their rooms all on Wednesday night was a bit more chaotic than we liked. The second reason was consideration for the parents. For them to come in for both ceremonies meant that many of them had to get a hotel room for the night. Now, those who are close enough can just come for the day.” 

Elianne performed twice for her classmates during the ceremony, much to their delight. The format of the program itself changed as well. The 26 eighth graders did not hear from an outside guest speaker. Instead, they heard from one of their own, Mirtha “Cecilia” Paredes ‘22, who was one of the two Aim High award winners. In fact, according to Ballard, this was another major reason the ceremonies were combined. 

“Many of our sixth and seventh graders went home right after the Thursday morning exam, which meant they weren’t able to support our eighth graders moving on,” he said. “By them being there, it allowed Cecilia to provide advice on how they should take advantage of all the opportunities that R-MA has to offer.” And Cecilia did not disappoint.

“From the moment I entered the campus of R-MA and sat down to have my interview with Mrs. Pam Cole, I did not want to be here,” she told her fellow Middle School students. “I was satisfied with where I was at the time and did not want to leave home. I also thought to myself, ‘Boarding school? Ew, I don’t want to go to a boarding school.’”

Cecilia provides words of wisdom to her fellow middle school students during the Eighth Grade Promotion Ceremony.

“Turns out that someone saw the potential that I didn’t see early on,” Cecelia said. “This school has made a huge impact on my life and this year has been a period in my life that I will never forget. It was the turning point in my adolescence where I took advantage of my opportunities. I realized I had a wonderful mother who was working hard to pay for the expenses for me to come to this school. I used to be a C+ average student, now that has changed. Students, each one of your parents care about your education enough to send you to R-MA, I hope you take that opportunity and use it as an advantage and try hard every day. You have to work for what you want. Next year, even though some of you are still only going to be in middle school, start doing the best you can and become involved in all the activities that R-MA has to offer. As said by many, “life is short” so get the best out of it.

Cecilia went on to recall memories made with her R-MA family, then praised her teachers for their incredible support. “It may be difficult to see this when we are frustrated or tired, but teachers here do care about each one of you,” she reminded the students. 

In conclusion, Cecilia said, “Finally, here we are at the end of the year, and the beginning of new chances and opportunities. We sit here today getting ready to take another step forward. I wish you all good luck, and I know everyone here is ready to do something amazing.”

Hugs, smiles, and a few tears were shared after the promotion ceremony was over, and summer vacation officially began.