Helen Keller Middle School’s recorded closing ceremony offered students words of celebration and encouragement as they complete the eight grade and look forward to starting high school in the fall. Although the traditional in-person gathering could not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the video gave students and families the opportunity to come together and celebrate the accomplishments of the 2020 eight grade class.

Several school and town officials recorded messages for the video, including Principal Susan Kaplan, Assistant Principal Annie Mohr, Board of Education Chair Jon Stinson, First Selectman Dr. David Bindelglass, and Superintendent Dr. Tom McMorran. The student government co-presidents Alex Weiss and Deandra Tamasdan also recorded speeches, and their classmate, Emily Ploss, sang the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Many of the speakers acknowledged the difficulties they faced by not being able to see each other. “Through these past months, all of us were deprived of the human need to be social with each other,” said Kaplan. “I have missed you all.”

Bindelglass, who recorded his video from Town Hall, told the students: “The town of Easton is so proud of you, not only for the way you have continued with your education through this pandemic, but also for how you have handled the social distancing.”

Class co-presidents Weiss and Tamasdan reflected on their journey as a class thus far. “From our first day of middle school to today, we’ve been faced with unknown challenges, unforeseen conflicts, and barriers to overcome,” remarked Weiss. “Throughout it all, you’ve experienced success through adversity.”

“I still remember when I was in kindergarten,” said Tamasdan. “We’ve always been there to help each other up.”

The video concluded with a list of the students who won the awards given out by HKMS, listed below, and a slideshow of the students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Award Recipients were:

  • Sophie Rozendaal, First Selectman Award
  • Sydney Borofsy, Connecticut Association of Schools Award
  • Alex Llach, Connecticut Association of Schools Award
  • Edison Kwok, Western Connecticut Superintendent Award
  • Maelen Wilk, Western Connecticut Superintendent Award
  • John (Jack) Gustavson, Jane Kennedy Award
  • Elyssa Kalamaras, Jane Kennedy Award
  • Siddarth Gupta, Mike’s Way Award
  • Julia Vassallo, Mikey’s Way Award
  • Benjamin Hauptman, Joan C. Parker Award
  • Maya Skritch, Joan C. Parker Award
  • Jenna Najjar, Daughters of the American Revolution Award
  • Christian Jhilal, Mary Waterman Award
  • Ian Lent, Joseph DiGregorio Award
  • Gabriella Krzewicki, Terri A. Churilla Award
  • Nathanael Knorr, Carl Mlinar Book Award
  • Duncan Martin, Diane Esther Aaron Memorial Award for Visual Arts
  • Carsen Schick, Diane Esther Aaron Memorial Award for Performing Arts

The student government is comprised of co-presidents Deandra Tamasdan and Alexander Weiss; secretary Maelen Wilk, and ambassador Faxila Kudia. The Eighth Grade Government Workers of the Year awards were given to Mi-Hyum Dechavanne, Nathanael Knorr, and Ava Lehberger.

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