Hingham’s 5th and 8th Graders Celebrated this Week


6/17/2020 - Story and Photos by Joshua Ross

With everyone's attention the last few weeks focused on Hingham's Class of 2020 with events like this, this, and this, it was time to show some love to the 5th and 8th graders, who also reached milestones this year.  Like the seniors, these students also missed important events such as the 8th grade DC trip, 8th grade Field Day, 5th grade HMS move-up day, and 5th grade culmination and graduation ceremonies.  However, with a little out of the box thinking, help from the teachers, PTOs, Hingham Fire and Police, Town Officials, and even an airplane, these students will have memories lasting a lifetime.  Here are just some of the things done to celebrate the 5th and 8th graders of Hingham Public Schools.

Hingham Middle School - 8th Grade


Hingham Middle School kicked off the celebrations this week with a banner flyby over the shores of Hingham Harbor.  Normally, the 8th grade celebrates the end of the year and transition into High School with an all-day Field Day, which culminates the end of Civics Week.  Kids spend the day playing games, enjoying an outdoor lunch with friends, and receiving and signing yearbooks.  This event clearly couldn't happen this year, and coordinating something for the whole class to participate in was difficult.  Unlike the 5th grade celebrations, where there are under 100 kids per school and can be split up by classes to reduce the sizes even more, the 8th grade has over 300 students making large gatherings very challenging.  Coordination from many departments in town was needed.

"This year was so different for everyone," Chief Glenn Olsson tells the Anchor. "Our officers all have friends and family that are affected by the COVID issues, so we understand that the small things often taken for granted during a normal school year are important."  The 8th grade parents committee had their hands full this year trying to give the kids, and the teachers, a little sense of year-end normalcy.  Chairs Lori Lerardi, Ellen Larken, and Alison Best worked with the Town and private companies to pull off the fly-by, which was spread out along the entire coast of Hingham starting at World's End and ending at the Shipyard.  "There was a lot of work from the Board of Health, Fire Department, and so many other departments to sort through the COVID-19 regulations to find a way to make the events work," adds Olsson.


The 8th grade parents committee issued the following statement to the Anchor -

"The Hingham Middle School PTO and 8th grade committee would like to extend our thanks to the people whom we worked closely with over the past few months.  Thank you to Hingham Fire Marshal, Lieutenant Christopher DiNapoli; Hingham Police Chief Glenn Olsson; Susan Sarni, Board of Health; and Tom Mayo, Town Administrator for working around the clock for our Town to find solutions to our ever-evolving challenges.  Thank you to Bruno Lopes of the MBTA, who gave us free parking and permission to use the MBTA Commuter Boat Lot at the Hingham Shipyard for our celebration gathering. Thank you to Rachel Leone of Leone Marketing Solutions in Hingham for getting our t-shirts in a timely manner. Thank you to The Mills Air Service Inc. in Marston Mills for stepping in and giving us an unforgettable aerial banner flyby. Thank you to Plymouth Quarries in Hingham and engraver Rocco Canale for working with us on the 8th grade tribute gift to the Hingham Middle School. Thank you to the 8th Grade Advisors, Mark McCulloch and Mark Huntington and the Yearbook Advisors, Jill Smith and Kellie Foster for their hard work and guidance.  Thank you to our Hingham Middle School Principal, Derek Smith, for his constant support throughout the confusion and multiple changes to our plans.  Lastly, thank you to the parents of our 8th grade graduates for their patience while we sorted through all of the untraditional problems that occurred while planning for a celebration during a pandemic. Thank you everyone, and congratulations to our 8th grade class of 2024!"

Plymouth River School - 5th Grade

PRS kicked off the 5th grade parades on Monday morning starting at the South Shore Baptist Church and finishing with a loop around the PRS parking lot.  Each school typically celebrates their 5th graders a little different at the end of the year, but this year, each of the four elementary schools held a car parade.

"Each school's event was incredibly well attended, with the majority of vehicles fully decorated in celebration of each student." explained HPS Superindent Dr. Paul Austin. He should know, as he attended all four parades cheering on the students with the teachers, staff, and parents.  "Vehicle after vehicle entered the driveways of their respective schools with signs of appreciation for their teachers and school staff.  It was a joyous and fitting celebration of accomplishment for every Hingham 5th grader as they transition from elementary to middle school."

For full gallery of PRS Parade photos click here.

The parade at PRS was the finale of a week-long celebration of PRS 5th graders. A few weeks back, teachers personally delivered signs to each 5th grader's house - the first time teachers and students saw each other in-person in months. The students also received graduation gift bags from the PTO that included their yearbooks, diplomas, a gift card to The Barrel, a PRS 2020 t-shirt, and a balloon. A slideshow of the last six-years will be mailed to the parents as well.

William Jones greets 5th grade teachers Ms. Vella and Mrs. Donavan as they deliver his sign. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Jones)

Foster Elementary School - 5th Grade

Foster Elementary was the next school to host its parade. Just as every school is different, every location has its challenges as well. Chief Olsson added "the relationships the Police department and schools have built make working with each other so much easier." To accommodate traffic and congestion, each of the three Foster 5th grade classes had their own little parade.

5th grade teacher Liz Moore explains how important it was to hold events this year. "Our Foster team wanted to help make the end of the year festivities as fun as possible this year. We are so lucky to have an amazing 5th grade parent committee, team of dedicated teachers across the building that truly care for the kids, and an administration that supports all of us, and even brings the fire truck!" Normal year-end activities at Foster include graduation, a slideshow, move-up day, and the ever-popular 5th grade kickball game vs. the teachers. "Instead of all our typical year-end celebrations we had a parade decked out with floats, signs, and balloons with lots of love tossed from the sidewalks and back from the cars. We will miss this special group, and we were thrilled they let us celebrate in new fashions this year."

For full gallery of Foster Parade photos click here.

This year's new "traditions" for Foster school included lawn signs delivered by the 5th grade teachers, a town wide scavenger hunt with Nona's gift cards as prizes, an online Battle of the Books, special guest visits from Foster alumni ,and a grade-wide Zoom call to view the slideshow.

Mrs. Moore, along with Mrs. Avallone and Ms. Healey, hand deliver signs and little gifts to their 5th grade students in May. (Photo courtesy of Dar Collins)

East Elementary School - 5th Grade

Kicking off the second day of 5th grade parades was East Elementary School.  Their parade started off at the Hingham Public Library and made its way up and around East School.

Principal Tony Keady, who was first in line cheering on the students, offered some of his thoughts on their celebration.  "The entire East School community felt it was important to come together to celebrate this milestone with our 5th grade students and their families. We always have a culmination ceremony for the 5th grade, and we want to keep as many traditions as possible throughout the closure."  A common theme and goal with all four Hingham Elementary schools. He added, "we are fortunate to be a part of a supportive community and it was evident by the 5th grade parade.  We want to thank the Hingham Police for their help in making all the car parades happen safely and the East School PTO for their efforts in planning the logistics of the parade and making it a special day for the students."

To view the full gallery of East Parade photos click here

Luke Matherwiez greets 5th grade teacher Mrs. Barry when she personally delivered his lawn sign. (Photo courtesy of Dawn Murray)

East Elementary 5th graders received diplomas, yearbooks, certificates, and a gift card to The Barrel at the parade.  Their slideshow will also be mailed to them.


south elementary school - 5th Grade

South Elementary School rounded out the parades on Tuesday afternoon.  Like Foster, location and traffic consideration were factors in the parade planning, therefore each 5th grade class had its own parade spread out every 20 minutes.  The benefit of being on a busy road was lots of honking from trucks and cars passing by the school.  Each elementary school has its own personality stemming from the four outstanding Principals and four hard working PTO groups that shape the culture of each school.

"Closing out this school year compared to last year were two different landscapes.  Normally the last week of school our PTO would be hosting Field Day and a Talent Show while celebrating a year full of PTO sponsored activities,"  explains South School's PTO President Jen Benham.  "While we were unable to hold these events that are near and dear to our hearts, I am especially touched by the entire community. Parents, teachers, and volunteers came together during an incredible situation and created thoughtful modified events to ensure that our students still had that connection of a community. I am confident that after all this, we will return as a stronger, better and even more resilient South School Community."

For full gallery of South Parade photos click here

Lawn signs were also distributed to the South 5th graders.  In addition, they had a virtual graduation with the entire grade.

Caroline Leahy stands with her South lawn sign delivered to her front yard. (Courtesy photo by Jill Leahy)

special shout out - officer mcgillicuddy

School Resource Officer McGillicuddy was at every parade this week, either leading the parade or keeping the coast clear.  Technically, there were nine different parades (four at South, three at Foster, and one each at PRS and East), and she was at all of them with a big smile. The students clearly loved having her there too.

"The kids always ask me if I know the Resource Officers. It shows me that the kids notice them, which is great." says Chief Olsson.  "I have often joked that the School Resource Officers are the most popular Police of the Department. These are the moments that the Officers realize what this job can be all about.  I could not imagine not being part of the schools."

And, neither can we Chief!


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