It's the last day of school in Chatham County. While most students are excited about summer vacation, others are already concerned about next school year, especially young students making the transition from elementary school to middle school.
Fifth graders from Thunderbolt Elementary School filled the auditorium at Johnson High School. It's the day they've been waiting for: graduation day. Today, they'll be leaving elementary school behind them forever.
Principal Vicky Bryant recognizes it will be a big change for students. "That environment that they're moving to is not a self contained environment like it is in the elementary level," she explained.
While they celebrate the last time they'll spend all together as a class, many fifth graders are already worried about the changes they'll have to make when they go on to middle school in the fall. "I'm concerned about how the other kids are going to act," said Kristal Cawley, "what classes I'm going to be in, what classes my friends are going to be in."
Many parents are also concerned about the added responsibilities their children will be facing. "In middle school, the teachers don't hold their hands like they did in elementary school," explained Claudia Palmer-Cawley, Kristal's mother. "It's really left up to the student to take upon themselves to do their own work."
Worries of meeting new friends, getting lost and getting used to a whole new school are among the top concerns; however, some students are already preparing for the change. "The first thing I try to do is just try to get good grades and start on my classes and get everything done," said Tristan Shonfelt. "Get school supplies, get ready and prepared."
With the love and support of their families and friends, the new graduates are walking off the stage, diplomas in hand, ready to face the next chapter of their lives.