For the 11 Islip Middle School eighth graders in the district’s EXCEL gifted and talented program, June 15 marked the end of one era in their educational journey as they received certificates of completion at the program’s first Eclosion Celebration. Students Connor Ancipink, William Cheung, Kieran Freelin, Fiona Hamilton, Richie Lin, Nelysa Petersen, Wesley Plotke, Eve Schnatz, Aisha Shrivardhankar, Vincent Tyre and Jadyn Zink were officially recognized as program graduates in front of their proud parents during the event.
The informal celebration highlighted the endeavors, adventures and accolades the students have experienced since they began the program in fourth grade. EXCEL Coordinator Julia Johnson spoke about the varying disciplines studied in the EXCEL room, such as flying drones, writing poetry, debating philosophy, creating documentaries, and exploring global citizenship and neuroscience.
“What’s awesome is that I got to watch the growth of your children throughout this,” Johnson told the parents. “I’ve watched them grow as writers, watched them engage in all these hands-on opportunities to figure out who they are as individuals, how they work with others, and slowly they are becoming themselves. We know that this is only the beginning, so tonight is our chance to honor them on that journey. It has truly been my honor to guide them through this experience of self-discovery, of self-creation, of emergence, and to witness them connect to the highest versions of themselves right now.”