I would like to extend a special thank you to our families, teachers and staff, Mr. Kane, Mrs. Corbett (our alumnae guest speaker), Father Berberian, and all others who contributed by supporting and guiding the eighth-grade class along the way. A special thank you to Mrs. Heilsberg (our eighth-grade teacher) who has helped our class strengthen our relationship with God by going out of her way to make sure that prayer and service is included in our everyday lives. She has sacrificed so much of her time, energy and personal life to ensure that we are equipped with the moral values and Catholic virtues needed to face the future.

This is an opportunity to celebrate and reflect upon the journey that has brought the eighth-grade class to this moment. The past year has challenged us in many different ways, primarily through our time-management skills. Deadlines tightened, the workload increased, and projects became more in-depth. While time management was certainly not our strong suit, we excelled in other areas. Chief among these was our ability to work together when faced with a challenge. For example, when the monstrosity known as Garage Sale appeared on our calendar, we kicked it into gear and prepared for the worst. And while it was definitely a tiring experience, we faced it with a smile, each of us working to raise enough money for our Washington D.C. trip.

Through our teamwork, we were able to break the previous record and raise more than enough money to attend D.C. Speaking of Washington D.C., we spent four action-packed, adrenaline-pumping, and incredibly exhausting days exploring our nation’s capital together. From ghost tours, to climbing memorials, to braving food courts, we filled our brains with both knowledge and memories.

When we returned to St. Thomas, another challenge presented itself — the annual Race for Education. In my opinion, this challenge best sums up the spirit of the eighth-grade class. Mrs. Heilsberg challenged us to win the relay race. Not all of us are the greatest runners or wanted to race, but with encouragement from other classmates, we agreed we would give it our best shot. The race commenced, and you could feel the excitement and energy from the class. All 17 of us raced around the school as fast as we could, and with the rest of the class cheering us on every step of the way, we won the relay by a mile. This is exactly what the eighth grade is about. Making each other laugh when tests are coming up, helping each other when needed, and cheering each other on when we accomplish something. So I want everyone to think back to everything we accomplished this year, every obstacle we overcame — Washington D.C., Race for Ed, Garage Sale, service projects, tests and Funny Friday jokes. All of that has led to here — Graduation. And I am proud to have been part of this journey and class.  Thank you!

Billy Sherburne is a 2019 eighth-grade graduate of St. Thomas the Apostle School.