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Congratulations and Best of Wishes to the 2020 Graduating 8th-Graders from the Thomas E. Harrington Middle School in Mount Laurel!

A Message to Graduates from Principal Ryan Caltabiano

Photo of Principal Ryan CaltabianoGood Evening.
I’d like to welcome our honorees, parents, families, staff, members of the Mount Laurel Township Board of Education, and our Administration.
This year was not what we expected or wanted for the Harrington 8th grade Class of 2020. 
I am sad that it ended this way for you. 
You deserve to take your 8th grade trip to Dorney Park and to dress up for your graduation dance. You deserve to defend your undefeated softball season. You deserve to take a crack at going undefeated in baseball during your 8th grade year.
You deserve to sing at the spring choir concert and play your instruments during our band and orchestra concerts. You deserve to show your personal bests in track and field, to redeem that one-loss season in boys lacrosse, and start your new journey with your new coach in girls lacrosse.
 You even deserve, which I’m sure saddens all of you, to take that next step on the state-wide test.  More than any class before you, you deserve all of these things.  
However, life doesn’t always go as we plan or hope.  And, while I cannot replace all that you lost this year, let’s take a look at what you have now gained that no 8th grade class in history has ever had – perspective.
You now have the perspective that so many adults love to share with students in your position. 
We always say:
“Your high school years are going to go by so fast!” 
“You can’t get these years back, ya know.”
“You don’t know what you’re missing.”
Through this quarantine, you have gained the perspective that school IS enjoyable.
 The time that you will spend with your friends, teachers, advisors, coaches, and yes, even your Principals, is something you can never get back.  You all know that now.  You have lived it. 
 Now, you get to do what no class ever has… and that is relish the next four years.
 These years will go by fast, you cannot get them back; however, you DO know what you’re missing because you have now experienced that. 
 I have enjoyed being your Principal over the past two years; however, I am saddened that it ended this way.  Best of luck in high school Harrington 8th grade class of 2020. 
 You are one of a kind.  

Comments from Board of Education President Diane Blair 
to the Harrington Middle School Class of 2020Photo of Board President Diane Blair
Photo of Board President Diane Blair

Photo of Board President Diane Blair Good evening to our honorees, parents, grandparents, family members, fellow board members, staff and administration.
I offer each of our 8th-grade students hearty congratulations on behalf of the Board of Education. We are so happy with the history of achievements you have written here in the Mount Laurel Schools!  And we will be watching with pride as you write your next chapter of accomplishments in high school.
In addition to my work on the board of education, I am the mother of two sons and two grandsons. I hope, therefore, to address some of my comments to the parents standing behind our shining honorees this evening.
From the time our children have come into the world, we begin to mark the milestones and moments in their development … their first steps, first words, favorite foods, first day in kindergarten, and so much more. We note these critical facts in journals and baby books that we will present to them one day in adulthood to chronicle our lives together.
But this year, there are some pages missing, and this will fall on you, parents, to fill those pages.
They should hold photos of champion titles, concerts, dances, academic award ceremonies, and eighth-grade trips. There should be lists of “best friends” who may move into new hallways in high school and away from the close bond formed on that first day of school at age five.
I hope you will fill these pages, parents.
Fill them with every aspect of three months in their history during Two Thousand and Twenty that sharpened their senses to the larger world … all while they were held close in the arms of their family.
It is an important chapter in their story.
So,congratulations to our students and parents alike, for your resilience and never-ending support of one another now, and into the future. We are truly proud to have taken this walk alongside of you.

Message and Certification from 
Superintendent of Schools Dr. George J. Rafferty

Portrait of Dr. George Rafferty
 
Hello, Mount Laurel 8th-Grade students, parents, grandparents, extended family members, staff and Board of Education Members. This year, across the country, commencement speakers will no doubt highlight the lessons we have learned during this unparalleled year.They will ask us to reflect on the valuable time spent with family over the past three months and the quiet moments we were able to regain in each day. They will ponder whether our release from seclusion gave us a new appreciation for our environment and its preservation, or if our gratitude for science and those who do its work in our medical fields each day has escalated exponentially. 
Those are important questions. It is necessary, following times of great change, to reflect upon what we did right, and not so right, in the face of turmoil.
The events of the past three months and the consideration of your promotion to high school this evening, however, have continually raised another question in my mind:
How will the experiences of 2020 impact our young people?
Will the resilience we have witnessed with your education inspire you to seek new approaches in other facets of your life? Will the many stories of heroism and dedication we have heard strengthen your resolve to follow a personal passion in the future? Will you have a greater appreciation for the special moments in your life, or be more inclined to show kindness to a stranger?
Stanford School of Business Professor John W. Gardner wrote: “History never looks like history when you are living through it.”
That seems apropos now, but as I watch you move on to high school, I have every faith that the strength of the shared experience of the Year 2020 will result in a richer experience for all in the future.
I wish you only the best in those endeavors.
 
With that, Madame President and Members of the Mount Laurel Board of Education, I hereby certify that the eighth-grade class of Thomas E. Harrington Middle School 2020 has met all of the requirements established by the New Jersey Department of Education for promotion to the ninth-grade.
 
Good Luck in High School, Harrington Middle School!