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Filling in for PSJ, parents organize, lead Moving Up ceremony

By CHRISTOPHER RYAN OEHRLI

For the Daily News

In many ways it was familiar: there were guest speakers, baby pictures and the applause of proud, excited parents. But in two ways it was a unique Moving Up ceremony — it did not take place at P.S. Jones Middle School and it was not organized by the school.

Students celebrated their transition to high school at Beaufort County Community College’s auditorium last Thursday. The event was organized by concerned parents and friends.

The middle school’s improvement team voted in May and June 2017 to discontinue the years-long Moving Up ceremony “due to various reasons,” a statement said.

“Parents were notified at the beginning of the school year at open house about this decision,” it continued.

Parents at Thursday’s Moving Up said school officials told them the cancellation was for budgetary reasons, among others.

The school still held an awards ceremony in its gym June 8, recognizing “academic excellence in (students’) classes, perfect attendance, character education awards, Male and Female Athlete of the Year, Presidential Awards, PBIS awards/recognition for behavior, and participation in various clubs and organizations.” A presentation created by the eighth-grade yearbook staff showed baby pictures.

Parents were nonetheless unhappy with Moving Up’s disappearance, prompting them to make it happen on their own.

Tiffany Jones did not have a child graduating but still felt Moving Up was important, she said. She and others used social media to spread the word, secured BCCC as a venue and arranged speakers.

The school publicized Moving Up by sending out an email and distributing flyers after its award show, a statement from the vice principal said. It also provided the yearbook staff’s slideshow.

260 students graduated. 50 participated in the ceremony at BCCC. They were: Jaydee Benitez-Ponce, Daziaya Brown, Devonia Burrus, Shavar Clark, Messiah Ebron, Frankie Guilford, Cu’vontay Hawkins, Geyler Jaimes, Joshua Kittrell, Madison Lester, Zariean Moore, Ty’jae Peele, Jose Ignacio Rodriquez Ponce, Jamarion Smith, MarChina Warren, Ja’Myia Whitney, Mahlayia Worsley, Martez Berry, Nyquese Daniel, Laci Campbell, Daejuan Cooper, Samaiya Edwards, Amariona Harper, Janessa Henry, Dae’Giona Jennette, Ramel Knight, JaVeonta Martin, Shamari Parker, Jacobo Quinonez Morales, Kristen Satchel, Dahmios Spencer, Joshua White, Oreyonna Whitney, Emori Worthy, Kaitlyn Boyd, Patriaunua Saylles, Alyssa Cartwright, Lamaria Culter, RaShad Gordon, Janee Harris, Carter Hodges, Isaiah Johnson, Bi’Yon Lane, Ramelo McCall, Kamoni Patterson, William Reid, Avery Smallwood, Devin Warren, Ja’Mia Whitney and Aston Woolard.

Beaufort County Commissioner Jerry Langley, local businessman Chris Johnson and deputy sheriff Kevin Woolard spoke at the event. All three emphasized the importance of life’s choices.

“Study hard these next four years, but plan what you want to do after, too,” said Langley.

Students and parents were grateful to organizers.

“It was a good thing to do so we’ll have something to look back on” said Rashad Gordon, who graduated.

“This is a really good thing they’re doing for the kids,” said Ebony Knight, whose son Ramel graduated. “It’s great when the community comes together.”

Jones said that as there’s interest she would be willing to help organize Moving Up in the future.

“It’s about our kids at the end of the day,” she said.