The Epstein School’s eighth-grade graduation at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center May 23 took a different approach from graduations of the past. In previous years, the ceremony was held in the school’s gym and students performed a song and dance. This year, they proudly arrived at the stage in groups of four and spoke about their experience at Epstein.
Brian Granath, president of the board, introduced the graduating class of 2019. “Mazel Tov on all you have accomplished. My hope for you is that you will use the tools The Epstein School has given you to make the world a better place.”
David Abusch-Magder, head of school, welcomed everyone to graduation. “The class of 2019 embody what an Epstein education seeks to instill.”
He asked everyone to take a look around them and notice “the beautiful community that powers our students.”
Eric Robbins, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, greeted the class of 2019 and wished them well on their high school careers.
Normally, a rabbi speaks at eighth-grade graduation. This year three rabbis, who are also parents of the graduating class, spoke — a first for Epstein. They were Josh Heller of Congregation B’nai Torah, Brad Levenberg of Temple Sinai, and Michael Bernstein of Congregation Gesher L’Torah. The rabbis blessed the eighth-grade class with the “Shehecheyanu” because graduation is a very special occasion.
Eighth-grade class Knesset president Bari Seitz spoke about what Epstein meant to her. “Little moments are what makes the Epstein class of 2019 so special; it really is the little things that define us.” Seitz presented the class gift, which was an electronic board to post announcements “so that students will never have to miss the little things.”
Students came up on stage in two groups of four and spoke about 11 themes that were important to them during their time at Epstein. The themes were: first days of school, preschool, elementary school, milestones, shiriyah (song, dance, music, drama), Judaism, middle school, sports, trips, Israel and bar and bat mitzvahs.Each student spoke about their favorite themes and what Epstein meant to them.
The only singing the students did was toward the end of graduation. The graduating class preformed “Shir Israeli” by Shlomo Gronich. The students were lively and sang proudly as they spent their last moments as a class together.
New principal Leslie Smith-Rosen spoke about each student individually. She had very kind and unique things to say about each student. “This was a marvelous group of eighth-graders for me personally because, since they are the graduates for my first year at Epstein, they helped give me such a positive start as they are such an enjoyable group. I loved teaching many of them in a special seminar on “To Kill a Mockingbird,” but most of all, I loved being in Israel with them – they were a delight. I will miss most their maturity and good humor, and I hope the Class of 2020 follows in their footsteps!”