Many are unaware of the path their lives will take after graduation, but for 40 Epstein School eighth-graders, the journey seems less challenging, thanks to the values the school has instilled in them.

Friends and family packed the Sandy Springs day school’s gymnasium Wednesday, May 23, to celebrate graduation, scheduled 10 minutes before the air conditioning turned off. Despite the heat, the ceremony continued with the Class of 2018’s rendition of the “Wizard of Oz.”

Elana Katz (as Dorothy) performs “Over the Rainbow” as Andrea Zaglin (Toto) listens.

Like the show’s character, the Epstein graduates are taking courage, heart and brains to high school, including the ability to think critically and see the world through multiple perspectives, according to the graduation program.

Graduating eighth-graders (from left) Jonathan Merlin, Max Chernow, Mo Zibitt, Asher Force, Aaron Bock and Salo Szumstein sing “Hatikva” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Students shared their capstone projects, a new initiative this year, and Knesset President Gabriel Kadoori presented the class gift, a printer, for the use of faculty and students in the fall. The students also spoke about what they learned in their favorite subjects and how those lessons shaped their views.

Congregation Or Hadash Rabbi Mario Karpuj delivered the d’var Torah and recited a blessing for the students. He said his hope is that each student can become a blessing by effecting change.

Harris Dankberg receives his diploma from Morgan Dempsey-Brookhart, an English and world cultures teacher.

It was Myrna Rubel’s last graduation as Epstein’s middle school principal, but she will remain on campus to teach a class. Rubel spent a few final moments with the graduating class during the presentation of the diplomas.

Epstein eighth-graders (from left) Lulu Rosenberg, Reagan Lapes, Tamar Guggenheim, Galia Cohen and Hillary Smith perform “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” from “The Wizard of Oz” as part of their graduation.

She encouraged the students to never forget their Jewish identity and to stand as ambassadors for Israel. “Epstein is meant to be your cheerleader, telling you that whatever path you choose, you are supported by your teachers, by your parents and your friends.”

Epstein Class of 2018

The following are the 40 students who graduated from the Epstein School on Wednesday, May 23.

Gali Bendavid
Kira Berzack
Aaron Bock
Max Chernow
Emma Cohen
Galia Cohen
Harris Dankberg
Spencer Dickson
Molly Fisher
Asher Force
Marissa Goodman
Tamar Guggenheim
Jaron Holzer
Justin Jacobs
Gabriel Kadoori
Rebecca Kann
Elana Katz
Naomi Kuropatwa
Reagan Lapes
David Leavitt
Olivia Lerner
Ralph Liniado
Emma Mailman
Jonathan Merlin
Mollie Meyerowitz
Emma Nowitz
Max Pargman
Moira Poh
Eitan Pritzker
Lulu Rosenberg
Gabrielle Rosenfeld
Joshua Sampson
Zoe Siegel
Max Silver
Hillary Smith
Salo Szumstein
Jordan Tovin
Andrea Zaglin
Mo Zibitt
Yaniv Zigmond

Photos by Coleen Lou