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Goff Middle School’s 8th graders and their families celebrated another educational milestone as they graduated from middle school on Thursday evening and were introduced to Columbia High School at Elevation Celebration.

Addressing the standing-room-only crowd in the high school gym, Goff Principal Wayne Grignon congratulated the students for their achievements and officially handed them off to Columbia Principal John Sawchuk.

“As you go through your journey, expect excellence in everything you do,” Mr. Grignon told the students, referring to the Goff Middle School motto. “But do not forget to be kind to those around you and have fun along the way.”

The students will become the Columbia Class of 2021, joining one of the best high schools in the region.

“You are a remarkable class,” Superintendent Jeff Simons said, “and I look forward to seeing many great things ahead for you and for our school district as you move into your freshman year of high school.”

The Goff Jazz Band played pre-ceremony music and the Vocal Ensemble performed the National Anthem.

A group of students unveiled the Class Board, which will be displayed in Goff Middle School, providing an artistic time capsule of the 2017-18 school year. It was designed by Ekansh Agrawal and Edward Downer.

But on an evening filled with pride and joy, there was also heartache.

As students were called up by name to receive their certificates, former Goff student Sean Jucha was announced and the audience responded with extended applause in his memory. Mr. Jucha passed away in August before he could begin 8th grade following a long battle with brain cancer.

Chase Durivage at Elevation Celebration

Chase Durivage addresses his classmates at Goff Elevation Celebration.

Though Mr. Jucha is gone, he has not been forgotten by his classmates, teachers or the community. Goff Middle School has sponsored many fundraisers in his name throughout the school year, and last month, dedicated a bench in his honor in front of school. His good friend Chase Durivage was the student speaker at Elevation Celebration, and recalled how the challenging experience of losing a friend brought students closer together.

“Whether you knew Sean or not, this experience defines us as a class, allowing us to become better people, and taught us to appreciate the importance of relying on one another during difficult times,” Mr. Durivage said.

The keynote address was given by English teacher Sean Crall, who brought with him to the podium a life-size cardboard cutout of Spiderman. He called on the soon-to-be freshmen to “change the world” for the better as he tied together the seemingly “disparate” topics of love and a comic book superhero.

“If you spend your life loving and serving others, you will avoid living what Thoreau called ‘a life of quiet desperation,’” Mr. Crall said. “Enriching others’ lives through love and kindness will enable your own life to be that much better.”

Congratulations to the Class of 2021 and best of luck in high school!