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A day to celebrate

By Julie Matuszewski: photo courtesy of American Academy

Photo of American Academy – Castle Pines class photo 2021.

The “white shirt and jeans” class photo has been a school tradition for many years at American Academy – Castle Pines. Every student is given a printed copy of the picture with their diploma and a copy hangs in the school hallway.

American Academy – Castle Pines has celebrated graduating eighth graders with a formal cap and gown ceremony since its inception. Although this year’s traditional ceremony may have been a bit more casual, celebrating the classes successes, school memories and one another was a tradition that could not be broken.

Although thankful to have maintained in-person attendance all year long, state restrictions and uncertainties did make graduation planning a bit more challenging for school officials. With the help of 20 volunteer eighth grade students and a planning committee, the modified celebration began to take on a new life.

The eighth grade celebration included school traditions that normally would have taken place throughout the school year, including a DJ dance and photo booth, the favored dodgeball tournament, and a catered lunch from Chick-fil-A (voted on by the eighth grade class) and Rebel Cookie Dough food truck.

Graduating students kicked the celebration off with the traditional awards ceremony with “Excellence in Character” awards, STEM awards and valedictorian and salutatorian recognitions, followed by a 30-minute class video sharing collective memories of the past nine years with one another. The students relished being in the company of one another, playing spike ball, basketball and four square – and of course dancing to the latest hits.

Before the celebration came to an end, parents and siblings joined the graduating class alongside Middle School Principal Michelle Daley and Dean of Students Shannen Major for tears and laughter as each student proudly accepted his and her diploma.



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