The graduation tent on McLeod field was home to yet another end-of-year event—the Step Up ceremony for Class V students, which marks the transition of “fifthies” from the middle school to the upper school.
Parents and guardians gathered to hear speeches by students and faculty—a collection of congratulations, reflections and well-wishes for the next chapter at Nobles for this promising class of students. In his opening remarks, John Gifford ’86, Head of the Middle School and Assistant Head of the Upper School, explained the distinction between Step Up and the graduation ceremony that took place in the same space just days before, noting that Step Up is quite possibly even better than graduation, as it implies a promise of more time. Gifford explained that he loves Step up “not only because it is healthy to pause and look back at what you have accomplished … but also because it is an important time to look ahead, to set new goals, and to renew aspirations.”
Nobles Co-Presidents for the Class of 2022, Mary Connors and Sid Balu, were there to welcome the Class of 2025 to the upper school. “Congratulations,” said Balu. “You guys are going to kill it these next four years; we’re going to have your back for anything you ever need, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.” Following Balu, Connors commented, “This class has no problem having fun,” and told the rising Class IV students, “As you all begin your journey to the upper school, I encourage you to take your friends with you and make new friends along the way.”
Continuing a tradition that she started in 2013, Assistant Head of the Middle School and math faculty member Colette Finley handed out 17 fake “Scraps” (small change reminder and penalty, four of which equal an upper school detention) to members of Class V with pristine scraps records during their tenure in the middle school. Fake Scraps were awarded for everything from having the audacity to pick up trash to carelessly making too many bad puns and not scanning enough Latin poetry.
While all members of the Class of 2025 had varied successes during their years in the middle school, several students were recognized for their unique accomplishments. Middle School Athletic Director Carl Geneus presented the George Washington Copp Noble Award to Ethan Train and Caroline McCullough, and middle school art faculty member Molly Pascal ’05 presented the Middle School Art Purchase Prize to Francesca Gennari and Thomas Xue. Each year, a member of the class is awarded The James T. Carey Middle School Character Award, and this year’s recipient was Chidubem Chukwu ’25. Gifford explained that award was created in 2001 “to recognize a student in Class V who, in the opinion of the middle school faculty, makes decisions that are guided by a strong sense of integrity, is true to his or her ideals, goals and principles, and makes a positive impact on all members of the middle school community,” adding that “a whole slew of students in the Class of 25” could have been recognized for their character and kindness, but Chukwu made a unique impression.
Gifford went on to share some thoughts about Chukwu from faculty and staff in the middle school, all of which echoed the sentiments of English department faculty member Clara Brodie’s comments. “Chidubem,” said Brodie, “is one the kindest students we’ve ever had in the middle school. Thoughtful, generous, and considerate, he is a model student and community member. He asks thoughtful questions of his peers, and delights in all aspects of middle school life. He leads by example; his level of kindness and consideration truly is infectious.”
Student speakers Annabel Abdelal and Nate Madden shared some inspirational words with their classmates as they looked ahead at the next four years. Madden explained, “It’s not the moments you prepare for. It’s the ones you don’t that make the best memories,” and finished by quoting poet Shel Silverstein and thanking Nobles for giving him “a very, very happy start.”Continuing with the theme of beginnings and endings, Abdelal said, “We started our Nobles middle school careers in a tent, and here we are, ending our middle school careers in a tent. Next year, our tent will double in size, and as we welcome new people into our class and our lives, I want to remember this year as one of hope and not of hopelessness. We are emboldened, we are empowered, we are embraced. Thank you to everyone who showed us that we’re strong enough for this. Strong enough for this year and strong enough for the next. Thank you for showing us that we can.”