After three months away, members of the Eighth Grade class, their immediate families, and several teachers returned to campus on June 12th – in socially-distanced ways – to celebrate the Eighth Grade class, conclude BFS’s 225th year, and hold graduation on the upper field.  A warm yet especially beautiful June day graced everyone’s arrival, and the campus was in full glory. 

Students sang and played music, adding to the overall spirit and meaning of the event.  Steve Bernardini delivered a personal and moving speech for the graduates and all attendees to consider.  And, as the close relationships between teachers and students at BFS are at the core of all that we value and the educational experiences at our school, each Eighth Grader was individually recognized by a member of the faculty.

Especially meaningful and poignant were the individual and heartfelt reflections that were shared by the graduating Eighth Graders about their many years at our school.  Their ability to express themselves while touching upon the essence of BFS’s mission and core values was uplifting and affirming.  The following are excerpts from some of the remarks shared by the graduating Eighth Graders (excerpts and pictures are not matched):

At BFS, we’re not only a community, but an incredibly close-knit group that supports each other and “honors the Light within every person.” This is a very special place, and the only regret I have is not coming here sooner. I’ve made close friends and let myself open up. I’ve benefited immensely from my time here, and I will never forget how everyone here has helped me grow as a person.  To my teachers, thank you for your kindness and the incredible amount of willpower it must have taken to put up with our class’ antics. To my peers, thank you for filling my time here with smiles and laughter, and supporting me through everything. To my family, thank you for letting me go to BFS and giving me the opportunity to receive this wonderful education. (GS)

I am so grateful that our school values the importance of having connections with people from around the world. I’ve been to five different schools in my lifetime so far, and I feel lucky to have landed at Buckingham Friends to finish up grade school. BFS took me in and taught me how to contribute to and participate in a community. My classmates have provided caring support, constantly made me laugh out loud, even when I wasn’t supposed to, and helped me grow as a person – which is why I will NEVER forget them. I would also like to thank all of my teachers for helping me learn indispensable things like graphing quadratic equations, proper MLA source citing format and how to calculate population change correctly. (Because those are things that I would obviously use in my everyday life.) No really. I appreciate you all so much. Thank you. (LB)

While we must social distance in a time of this pandemic. I am honored to be graduating on school campus with my classmates, no matter how many feet we have to stand away from one another. We are all together in our final moments as 8th grade students. This school is a stone waiting to be carved by the ones who come and trace their mark on this campus. The size isn’t important, but rather the engraving and how you choose to design it in the years you spend in this special place. While my journey is coming to a close on this campus, when we leave this friendly place, we are connected here, and when we move to the next step in our lives, we will recall our time here, a smile on every face. (EW)

I am so grateful to BFS for the way this school has prepared me to enter a new chapter of my life for ninth grade. As a girl whose interests lie in mathematics and sciences, I found the BFS environment to be uniquely nurturing of my interests in all things STEM. But BFS is much more than a great place to study. It is also a tight-knit community of students, teachers, and even school administrators, whose friendships will stay with me forever. The lessons I have learned are not limited to Math, Science, English, Social Studies and French. I have also learned about the importance of curiosity, self-confidence, friendship and kindness. And I hope that I carry those lessons with me my entire lifetime. (ZG)

But in the end, three years of being on this BFS basketball team has helped me to grow and turned me from  4’11” 6th grader who just wanted to play for fun, to a player with so much love and knowledge for the game. But most importantly, being on that team taught me a quality I will need throughout my entire life, no matter what my career is, and that is how to be a leader.  (MS)   

When looking back on my time spent at BFS, I’m flooded with memories that trickle down throughout the years.  I hear the sounds of my past, and it’s music to my ears.  Laughter as we made chalk into fairy dust, the sound of crumpled leaves in unkempt hair, the scraping of pogo sticks on pavement, and out of tune voices mingled together on Friday Sing-A-Long. This is the music of my childhood.  A symphony not only made by me, but also my classmates.  All of my best memories at BFS are times we have shared together, where we – my classmates and I – have been what we are…kids. And they’ve seen me at my best and worst.  From rabbit obsessions, unbrushed hair, and cleats instead of shoes, to Greek mythology and musicals, they have put up with a lot, and that has meant a lot to me. Not only have they seen me grow, but we’ve grown together.  We’ve become trees, strong, stable, and able to stand on our own.  Our time together may fade away, but as Maya Angelo once said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  BFS has made me feel at home, and I will never forget it. (AH)

When I first came to BFS two years ago, I came from a public school, and as you can imagine, the transition from a public school to a school like BFS was not easy. I was so used to being ignored by my classmates and teachers at my old school. When I needed help in the beginning of my seventh grade year at BFS, I felt that I could handle all the emotions I was dealing with on my own. On top of that, at the time, I was not happy with the sudden movement from the school I grew up into a completely new school filled with completely new people I had never met before. But I noticed almost immediately that BFS has something that no other school I have ever been to before has. Buckingham Friends School is a community of people who care about each other and for each other like a family, and I am so glad that I received the opportunity to spend two years of my life on this campus with this family. It has meant the world to me.  (JP)

I always knew that my classmates and the community we’re going to be there for me, but it was only near the end of my time here that this message has finally set in and I’ve finally accepted it.  I’ve never been one to ask for help no matter what the issue presented was.  Opening myself up was one of the most nerve-racking things I had to do.  Even reading this I feel somewhat exposed and very nervous.  But something that I am sure of is that I would not be here telling you this story without the support, late night conversations, and comfort from my classmates.  Through the darkest times in my life, the light in my class – individually and as a whole – led me to safety and made me the person I am today. (MJ)

I don’t have many sad thoughts and feelings about graduating, but they struck me as I wrote this speech. Looking through the yearbooks and the old assignments from 3rd-8th grade, I feel full of different emotions thinking back to all the incredible moments I’ll never be able to experience again. Throughout my experience at BFS I’ve met so many extraordinary people, especially some of my closest friends that I was able to grow up next to.  Through all of the crushes, getting in trouble, and coming home from school every day with dirt stains on my pants, I’m thankful that I was able to be a kid.  So I guess this is a thank you to everybody who helped me be the person I am today. I’ll never forget BFS. (RM)

BFS is such a special place. BFS has a way of making school more than just school. Buckingham Friends makes school a place I came to every day to laugh, have fun, and be with my best friends. Over the past 9 years, I have discovered that BFS is my second home. It is a small and sweet shelter in a chaotic world. This place has given me everything I could ask for, including people I can pretty much call family. BFS will always be my home even though my time as a student here is coming to an end. The truth is, you can never leave a place like BFS behind because you never really leave your home. (ES)

Early in the 8th grade school year, we went on a trip to Heifer for three nights. We learned about the hardships that people faced all over the world, and different ways to help them. To understand their hardships, we stayed in shelters meant to replicate how they live.  It was an amazing time to spend with my friends, and I will never forget it. We had so much fun, that the world around us just faded away. (ES)

BFS allowed my class and me to do many things people our age would never get to do at school, like sledding, recess, and overnight trips. Buckingham Friends allowed us time to really be kids and to have fun. Not only has BFS let us explore friendship, it has let us explore the topics we want to learn about. The teachers have always been willing to work with students one on one and really help them grow as a student. This has been the case with not only the traditional school subjects but with subjects such as shop class, art and mindfulness. While at BFS I have not only learned as a student but as a person.  If it weren’t for the opportunity to attend BFS and have these many, many, many, special moments, I think I would be a very different person than I am standing here before you today. (LDH)

Larry the pickle was a fun stuffed plush toy of a pickle that my first grade teacher, hid around the first grade room every week.  If you found Larry you would get a special prize at the end of the year.  I always loved to play this game every week and it was the highlight of my day when I found him because Mrs. Heggestad would smile and be so happy for me.  First grade was a really fun year.  I’m so happy that I got to have Mrs. Heggestad as a teacher, and as much as I wish she could be at graduation, I know that she would be proud of me. (AG)

A good amount of 4th grade was just English, and because of how great of a teacher Ms. Sandburg was, that was the year I really started to enjoy writing.  Thank you Ms. Sandberg for making 4th grade as enjoyable as it was. (DR)

I really wish the school year could last longer. I have really liked coming to BFS; it has helped me quite a lot and been a great experience for me.  (JS)

Friendship is a very funny thing and something I didn’t know all that much about before I arrived at BFS. I was very scared when I first came to BFS and why wouldn’t I be? I was going to go to a new school with 18 new classmates. Which soon turned out to be 19. Who knew that 19th classmate was going to become one of my closest friends. Who knew how close you could become friends with someone so special within a year. I have made many incredible friends, and I am very thankful that I have been able to spend 2 years with this amazing class.  (HS)

Leaving behind comfort and diving into a world unknown is one of the scariest things a human can do. In November of 2019, I left behind my comfort, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I participated in the 2019 India JEM trip.  During these short weeks, I understood what it meant to live in the moment. I came home and learned to experience everything to its fullest. As many humans like to live in the safety and comfort of a familiar world, taking the risk of leaving it behind is the greatest reward. (RC)

The community at Buckingham Friends School is like none other. BFS also fosters the relationships between students, staff, and teachers. Teachers aren’t just teachers. They go above and beyond to really make an impact on the students’ life. Even the little things, like calling staff by their first name and study halls make a major difference for the students. The community at Buckingham Friends is unlike any other school, and I am very happy I was given the chance to experience it during the past two years. (JG)

One smile can start a friendship, one word can end a fight, one person can change your life. And it’s always someone you’ll never expect. Moving from Texas to PA, I never expected to meet Hanna, a bubbly purple-haired person, who I would make the greatest memories with, like this one, which may sound a little familiar.  To me, she is a great friend who can find the Light in everything. (HK)

Over the last three years at Buckingham Friends, I have had the privilege of problem-solving with my fellow classmates. It hasn’t always been easy, but working together has brought us together. BFS has taught me that together we can make it through anything and have a good time doing it. (MS)

3 thoughts on ““I hope that I carry those lessons with me my entire lifetime” – Graduation 2020

  1. What pure pleasure to read the above 8th graders’ comments. As a past teacher and administrator of BFS ( and parent of a long time ago BFS grad), my heart was renewed with hope, joy, and appreciation as I read your graduating comments. I can see BFS today through your words and I am heartened to know that you, like all those graduates before you, are of good heart, sound mind, and caring soul. I wish you all the best. You have been blessed with the gift of a solid education—a sound, inquiring mind, a loving heart, and lifelong friends of all ages. Best wishes to you all.

  2. Thank you for sharing your graduation in this unique way. How beautifully these young people express their feelings and share their BFS experiences. They all realize that BFS is a family that will always be there for them no matter where they are or whatever their needs maybe. Congratulations everyone…..including my dearest friend Jean Partridge who “Graduated” from Kindergarten this year! From experience, I can assure you all, BFS will always be your special family.

  3. Absolutely Beautiful! Warms my heart- thank you for putting together such a special celebration the class of 2020. you all just keep doing it right. love this!

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