After a busy year visiting China, London and Costa Rica, 24 eighth-graders at Bullis Charter School in Los Altos said goodbye yesterday, becoming the first graduating class from the charter school since its founding in 2003. It was an occasion that school leaders had been anticipating for the past nine years.
“You’ve paved the way for thousands of other students who will follow you,” said school board member John Phelps, whose daughter, Sonnet, was among the school’s 24 graduating eighth-graders.
“You are examples of what’s possible in public education,” Phelps added. According to Principal Wanny Hersey, the charter school was formed nine years ago as an alternative to the structured learning environment of standard public schools.
“We didn’t want to do what everybody else was doing,” Hersey said in a speech to eighth-grade students and their parents.
A unique approach
Jim Kermode, eighth-grader Gina Kermode’s father, said that the school took a diverse approach to education — one that “folds in all of the different subjects” into one classroom.
Graduating student Caroline Steffens said she thought the school’s unique approach to learning was one of its greatest strengths and one she would miss when attending high school next year.
“The thing I’m going to miss most about BCS is the learning environment,” Steffens said in a video played to the audience at the ceremony.
Over the course of the year, eighth-grade students had the opportunity to travel to China, to learn about pandas and diverse cultures; London, to learn about Shakespeare and American beginnings; and Costa Rica, to learn about Leatherback sea turtles.
The trip to China was student Ian Davoren’s favorite memory.
“We got to see their homes and their neighborhoods, which were really affected by the earthquake,” Davoren said, referring to the deadly 7.1-magnitude earthquake that hit western China in April.
Despite the fun-filled year, Karna Chelluri said what he would miss the most was his close-knit eighth-grade classmates.
“Having just 24 kids in your class, you get to know all of them,” Chelluri said. “And I’m really going to miss them.”
Right before they received their diplomas, the students serenaded parents and school officials with the song “I’ll Always Remember You,” by Miley Cyrus.
On to high school
And, although it was sad for students to say good- bye to a familiar campus and the friends they made while on it, they were also glad to be taking the leap to high school.
“We’re just very excited,” said Jim Kermode, whose daughter, Gina, had just received her diploma. Kermode said that his daughter will attend Los Altos High School next year.
As the students move on to different campuses, Principal Hersey hoped that they would carry Bullis’ values with them.
“My dream for you is that you will always continue to live life with passion and wonder, every single day,” Hersey said.