Bridging ceremony

Fort Belvoir Upper School sixth graders are congratulated by Principal Jamey Chianetta, right; Col. Michael Greenberg, Fort Belvoir garrison commander, center; and Fort Belvoir Command Sgt. Maj. Corey Perry at the school’s bridging ceremony, June 10.

Students encouraged to make the most of middle school

Monday morning saw many goodbyes and good lucks aimed at the sixth-graders at Fort Belvoir Upper School in a packed gymnasium, there for their end-of-school bridging ceremony. 

Jamey Chianetta, school principal, noted this was the first class that attended upper school for three years. 

“It’s pretty rare for students to live here long enough to be here for all three years,” since all of the students are directly associated with the military, she said. To prove her point, Chianetta asked all sixth-graders to stand. Year by year, she narrowed the students down, with less than half attending for three years, and just three children who had attended Fort Belvoir Elementary since kindergarten. 

Elliyah Thompson, a Walt Whitman Middle School student, who attended Fort Belvoir Upper School, informed the newest middle-schoolers that “this is an accomplishment, whether you know it or not,” and suggested they dive in and make new friends by joining a group that interests them. Thompson also urged them to get serious about grades. 

“When you hit middle school, it will hit back, and it will hit back hard,” Thompson said, which drew laughter from the audience. 

Col. Michael Greenberg, Fort Belvoir Garrison commander, congratulated the soon-to-be seventh graders on the big day. 

“I’m so proud of everything that you do, as you’ve accomplished so much in a few short years,” he said. 

Greenberg told each student to find their passion. 

“Life is so short, enjoy every minute. Find what you like to do and do it,” he said. 

He also asked parents to provide unconditional support in this time of transition. 

“No matter what your children decide to do in life, you need to support them and love them unconditionally,” Greenberg said. 

Acknowledging there will be tough days ahead, Greenberg advised the students those would be the times to reach out to parents, mentors and teachers for help. 

Each student was called to the front for personal congratulations by school and garrison leaders before getting a diploma, and the ceremony closed with the departing sixth-graders taking a symbolic walk across a footbridge in the middle of the gymnasium, and re-connecting with proud parents in the audience.