Grade Six Graduates with Promise and Purpose

On Wednesday evening, June 5, 2024, grade six students participated in a special graduation liturgy and eucharist before receiving their diplomas from Head of School Jennifer G. Landis and a farewell blessing from Lower School Division Head Christine Spies. Faculty, staff, and the students’ loved ones joyfully and reverently celebrated their growth and accomplishments in this beloved annual tradition. 

Male members of the coed Lower School Class of 2024 will matriculate to some of the top middle schools in the area, while female members will join additional incoming students to form the Class of 2030 in Oak Knoll’s purposefully designed all-girls Upper School program.

Reverend Monsignor John Carroll of the Diocese of Paterson officiated the liturgy. “These graduates will never forget tonight,” he remarked in his Homily. “Particularly for the joyful expressions I see on their parents’, relatives’, and teachers’ faces.”

During the Prayer of the Faithful, Msgr. Carroll implored the graduates to go forth confidently, knowing that God has a plan for each of them and will guide them at every step. 

The liturgy concluded with a favorite Oak Knoll graduation hymn, Go Make a Difference. The refrain, “Go make a difference, we can make a difference,” aptly describes the Holy Child mission and our community’s commitment to educating people of purpose.

Grades 5-6 Social Studies/Religion/Leadership Teacher Leslie Smith announced each graduate’s name as they processed to receive their diplomas from Landis and Spies. Smith then proudly announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you the class of 2024,” to an audience that erupted in cheers and applause.

In her farewell and blessing, Spies remarked on the student’s physical and mental growth, mentioning how many were barely big enough to carry their tote bags when they entered Oak Knoll but now could manage multiple backpacks, sports gear, and more. 

“You’ve grown in knowledge, faith, wisdom, and service,” she declared. “Academically, you’ve tackled everything from the intricacies of long division and the challenges of pre-algebra to how many different digits in Pi you can attempt when you celebrate Pi Day.”

She complimented their critical thinking skills and noted their many collaborative projects, design challenges, and accomplishments in Social Studies, STEM, robotics, art, music, and more.  

“But your growth goes far beyond academics,” she stated. She nodded to the many donations and service projects the students have undertaken over the years and said, “Spiritually, you have grown into kind, thoughtful, and compassionate individuals. You’ve embraced our school’s values, showing kindness and generosity in your actions. You’ve supported each other through thick and thin, shared countless laughs, and maybe a few struggles. You’ve learned that sometimes the best way to solve a problem is with a hug or a kind word.”

She concluded by advising the students to be the best versions of themselves, the ones God wants them to be. She encouraged them to face new challenges with courage, make new friends with an open heart, and never stop learning and growing. 

“Dream big, remember to laugh, and know that your Lower School faculty, staff, and administrators are always behind you, cheering you on. ​​You’re ready for the next adventure,” she summated. 

The formal graduation ceremony concluded with the Oak Knoll Alma Mater. Graduates and their guests were invited to recess in the Aileen Maury Dining Hall for a sumptuous reception beautifully decorated with tributes to the students and their time at Oak Knoll.