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At last year’s Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space fundraiser, MercerMe donated, as a charity auction item, the opportunity to have a custom article on MercerMe and Kevin and Leslie Kuchinski won. For their article, they chose for MercerMe to feature some of the time-honored  fifth grade traditions at Hopewell Elementary School that have made attending this strong community school even more memorable and have well prepared Hopewell area youth to move up to middle school.

The three traditions that were selected personally by Hopewell Elementary School principal, David Friedrich, are: the Fifth Grade Halloween Dance, the creation of custom commemorative tiles, and what is known as the “Clap Out.”

“Our collective goal is to provide our graduating students with an array of experiences which encapsulate the spirt and reflect the rich educational experiences offered at Hopewell Elementary. The fifth grade traditions will afford students wonderful memories which we trust will be treasured for years to come,” shared Principal Friedrich.

The Fifth Grade Halloween Dance is an annual performance planned, arranged and choreographed by the fifth grade students, each year with a different song and theme of the students’ choice.

“The Halloween dance has been going on for a number of years and involves a choreographed dance that is practiced and performed outside, in front of the entire HES community, on Halloween.  It is a great way to express ourselves in a fun way. Last year, we danced to The Monster Mash,” said Allison Hamer, an HES English Language Arts teacher.

“It was was an awesome dance and everyone wore their costume,” said HES second grader, Gloria Kennedy, who watched the performance with the rest of the student body last fall.

Tiles line the hallway at HES
Tiles line the hallway at HES

The creation of custom commemorative tiles has been a tradition for longer than the current administration can remember. Each student decorates a tile marking his or her high school graduation year and illustrates the tile with meaningful drawings reflecting the time at HES. Decorated tiles are then installed on the walls, around doorways in the 2nd and 3rd grade hall and some down by the art room.

This tradition has been upheld for a long time but there have been some recent gaps. “We love it but we’re running out of space,” said Principal Friedrich. “Ms Hua, our art teacher, sees that we should not oversaturate the hallways so we are still figuring out how to continue to display the tiles.” Principal Friedrich also said that the tiles are so sentimental to students that they return to HES to visit their own tiles.

Clap out
Clap out

And lastly, the “Clap Out” is a tradition on the last day of school (today actually!) when the fifth grade students exit the school building for the last time as students at HES. All the kindergarten through 4th grade students line the hallways of the primary wing and applaud as the fifth graders as they pass by. Parents congregate along East Prospect and also participate in the event.

“Fifth grade at HES culminates with an all school clap out. Amidst smiles and tears the school community gathers to wish the fifth graders well as they leave elementary school to transition to Middle School,” said Helen Corveleyn, HES science/math teacher.

This particular tradition is of special importance and is “very emotional with tears and hugs” amongst students, teachers and parents, shared Principal Friedrich.

Many thanks to the HES community, administration and staff for sharing their experiences and many thanks to the Kuchinskis for their generous donation to Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space!

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