By Michael Jacobs | firstname.lastname@example.org
Twenty-nine eighth-graders became the first graduates of the Atlanta Jewish Academy Middle School on Wednesday, May 27, continuing a tradition that until last year was part of the Greenfield Hebrew Academy.
The students, some of whom had attended GHA together since pre-kindergarten, didn’t lose the chance for caps and gowns before high school when GHA merged with Yeshiva Atlanta High School last year to form AJA. And Ian Ratner, the president of the AJA board, assured the crowd of faculty and families that eighth-grade graduation will remain a part of AJA next year.
“This will be the fulfillment of a dream,” Ratner said of AJA’s development as an integrated kindergarten-to-12th-grade Jewish day school.
Emphasizing the theme of the ceremony, “The Light of G-d Is the Soul of Man,” Associate Head of School Leah Summers said that each of the graduates has the divine spark and has shined in a special way.
“G-d made room for us that we can join him in partnership in making this world a better place,” Summers advised the graduates. She said a single person can make a difference in the world by being the spark that lights the way for others.
“I want you each to have the courage and foresight to start a new path and leave a new trail, and if you do that, others will follow,” Summers said.
In words that could be directed to any day school graduates, she concluded: “May the light of your soul illuminate the way for yourself and all those who follow you, and I wish you mazel tov.”
The graduation came five days after an awards ceremony for the eighth-graders.
The Kesher Shem Tov (Crown of a Good Name) Award, for students who through their deeds and actions display resourcefulness, modesty, honesty, uprightness and menshlichkeit, went to Datiel Dayani and Brad Flory.
The Hadassah Chesed Award, handed out at a Greater Atlanta Hadassah ceremony May 3 to a student who embodies care for other people and love of Israel, was won by Shani Kadosh.
The Head of School Award was presented to Micah Frankel and Zoe Sokol.
The Ephraim Frankel Award, recognizing scholarship, leadership and the trait of being a mensch, was given to Nathaniel Robinson and Ruthie Stolovitz.
AJA also gave out the Linda Gross Award, which goes to a rising eighth-grade girl who embodies kindness, compassion, hard work and integrity and displays the Jewish values of Linda Gross. The winner was Aden Dori.
Slideshow: AJA Eight Grade Graduation