By MADDY VITALE
Teachers and the Parent Teacher Association want all of the eighth grade graduating students from the Ocean City Intermediate School to know that they are special and will be missed when they take the big leap into high school next year.
And because of the pandemic, with events, field trips, parties and activities canceled and the eighth grade version of graduation “promotion” still up in the air, faculty and the PTA decided they should do something to let the 111 students know how important they truly are.
On Friday, OCIS teachers delivered custom-made signs to the students along with T-shirts supplied by the Ocean City Education Association, headed by high school art teacher Paul Matusz.
PTA President Joyce Palaganas explained how it all came about. “We worked on it for a month now. I felt it would be better for the teachers to deliver the signs and shirts because they are the ones who know the children, and the students would really appreciate seeing their teachers,” she said.
About 20 teacher-volunteers delivered the lawn signs and Red Raider shirts.
“I asked a couple of teachers and got an overwhelming response to deliver the signs,” Palaganas said. “They did everything.”
Just weeks earlier the district delivered signs to the graduating high school seniors. It was an idea that went over so well that Palaganas and Matusz thought it would be great to join forces and offer the same to the younger students being promoted to the high school.
“It has kind of been nice to be able to work with everyone who has the same thing in mind to make this situation better. It is tough on students, whether it is the eighth grade graduation or high school graduation,” Matusz noted.
Matusz teaches seniors.
“You have such a connection with the kids, and you are used to being able to say goodbye when they graduate,” he pointed out. “This was something simple we could do, showing up to a kid’s house with a T-shirt and a yard sign. It makes it so much better.”
Frank Butterick, an OCIS music teacher, along with the help of colleagues, Cholehna Weaver, Jess Kriegner and Nick Verducci, coordinated the effort to distribute the signs.
Butterick explained that, like Palaganas and Matusz, educators wanted to make the unusual end of the year a bit brighter.
“We wanted to make it special for the kids in this unprecedented time,” he said. “Usually it is a super-busy time of year with recognition events and field trips. We are just trying to do something for the kids so they know how special they are. Students are missing their teachers and we are missing them just as much.”