8th Grade Bridging Ceremony

The eight grade bridging ceremony was held on June 6, 2017, in the gymnasium at South Amherst Middle School. The SAMS Falcon Band, led by Band Director Mr. Mike Brawley, played as the one hundred forty-eight students took their seats.

Mrs Gomez, Principal at South Amherst Middle School, welcomed the students and their families. She led the guests in the Pledge of Allegiance and then introduced the 8th grade teachers:

  • Ms. Alyssa Bacik
  • Mrs. Darla Baumbick
  • Mr. John Carlock
  • Ms. Stephanie Coultrip
  • Mrs. Ellen Gundersen
  • Mrs. Heather Searight

The special guest, South Amherst Mayor Mr. David Leshinski, thanked the students for all of their hard work during the 8th grade community service day. Mayor Leshinski praised the students for the time that they spent cleaning up Evergreen Cemetery and presented them with a certificate of appreciation.

Village of SA Cert of App 17

Matthew Brightbill, a FHS 2017 graduate, was also a guest speaker that encouraged the students to become involved in the high school experience. Brightbill reflected on the time that he spent at SAMS and shared how those experiences helped guide him in his college choices. In addition to spending time at the 8th Grade Bridging Ceremony, he was also chosen as a speaker that gave an commencement address at the FHS graduation.

Matthew Brightbill, Firelands Class of 2017

Kelsey Hardwick, Nathaniel Boucher, and Evan Zidar were class speakers who shared from their perspectives about the time that they spent at SAMS. These three student speakers were outstanding!


During the ceremony, students were asked to stand if they were involved with extra-curricular activities. Those that were members of the National Junior Honor Society wore gold honor cords in recognition of their academic achievements.

Mrs. Ellen Gundersen, 8th grade teacher, introduced the students as the bridging ceremony began. During the bridging process students approached the symbolic bridge and were greeted by Mrs. Gomez. Standing on the far side of the bridge was Mrs. Keener, Firelands High School Assistant Principal. After greeting Mrs. Keener, students were given Bridging Awards, flowers, and more hand shakes!


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The students closed the program with the singing of the Firelands Alma Mater, lead by the choir and Choral Director Mrs. Johnson. After the ceremony was complete, students and their families were treated to a cupcake reception.

This last program for the 8th graders has become a student favorite. Principal Gomez stated, “Bridging our 8th graders to 9th grade is the best way I know how to properly send them to high school knowing their time in middle school was important and meant something. These formative years are so important and my hope is that that the momentum they built with us at SAMS will carry them through the rest of their lives.”

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Mrs. Gomez, SAMS Principal

Best of luck to all of our new freshmen!