At the May 26 Regional School Unit 73 Board of Directors meeting, some parents and students shared concerns about plans for the eighth grade promotion parade. Pictured from left are Spruce Mountain Middle School Principal Caroline “Carrie” Luce, eighth grade student Wyatt Foss, Food Service Director Laura Merrill, students Grace Cuthbertson and Madison Cordes. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

JAY — Spruce Mountain Middle School will recognize its eighth grade students with a promotion parade that was changed after concerns were brought to the Regional School Unit 73 Board of Directors.

Students will no longer be limited to the number of vehicles each may have, the parade route was changed and an ice cream social was added, SMMS Principal Caroline “Carrie” Luce said in a phone conversation Monday, June 6. The latter two will allow opportunities for students to give hugs to teachers and take pictures, she noted.

“A letter was sent out to parents stating that students were really excited about having a drive-through promotion when in fact the majority of students knew nothing about the drive through promotion,” parent Shannon Cuthbertson said at the directors meeting. “The letter states one car per student may attend and no other cars or family members can be present on school property to watch the ceremony in person. This type of limited promotion seems as though it is catering more towards convenience than the hard work and dedication to their academics and the celebration of these students with their family and friends present.

“Prior to this decision being made a number of eighth grade parents wrote letters to Mrs. Luce asking her to please host a proper promotion night in the gym. This would allow entire families to gather together and celebrate the accomplishments and victories of this eighth grade class whose middle school career was turned upside down due to COVID.”

Nichole Foss told the directors her child was not aware of the decision to hold a drive through recognition.

“These children have faced many challenges regarding their entire middle school experience,” she said. “Over the past 26 months this amazing group of eighth graders have had to finish their sixth grade year at home … with minimal educational advancements. They went to school for months on end with masks – sometimes remote, sometimes in person.


“They have lost sporting events, spectators, extracurricular activities, social opportunities … yet they showed up and they persevered. This age is developmentally very challenging pertaining to the mental health of a person.”

These kids earned this recognition night, deserve to be together, Foss added.

“A drive by ceremony is definitely the easy way out which doesn’t seem like the Spruce Mountain way,” eighth grader Grace Cuthbertson said. “We have had three years of COVID and now that things are finally starting to become somewhat normal, we feel an in-house eighth grade promotion needs to happen.”

Student Wyatt Foss said he and his friends didn’t know about the promotion parade plans.

“Please do not take away the chance for us students and for our parents to be able to celebrate making it through these challenging years, despite many obstacles and celebrate in a group setting together,” he said. “Many kids have divorced parents and step parents. How do you pick who gets to be in your one car with you? I hope we can think out of the box as to how to make this successful and safe.”

“We believe we have worked hard over the last three years and deserve to be recognized by our family, friends and classmates while paying farewell to our middle school career,” Madison Cordes stated.


Some directors thanked the students for speaking. After the meeting it was noted the decision on how the promotion would occur was not theirs to make.

“Earlier in the week members of the promotion planning committee and I met with parents to finalize our plans for our Promotion Parade,” Luce wrote in an email June 2. “This parade was originally born out of necessity during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years; aspects of this format allowed for pandemic restrictions. However, our former [eighth] graders and staff truly seemed to prefer the Promotion Parade, and as a staff, we decided to adopt this new tradition.

“Over the last two years, our school has worked hard to become more student-centered and make learning fun. The Promotion Parade allows us to celebrate our amazing eighth graders in a much more authentic and personal way.

“The emcees of the parade read off students’ names and accomplishments, one vehicle at a time, and it is broadcast over FM radio (106.1). Staff members line the sidewalk with balloons, banners and posters, cheering on our students.

“Our DJ adds to the celebratory ambience, and once awards are completed, the procession follows one of our teachers, who leads the parade on his Harley, through town. The event ends with students returning for photo ops with their friends and teachers and an ice-cream social in front of their new school, the high school.

“This format allows for families to have a more intimate role in their child’s experience and to celebrate their accomplishments along with them versus from the sidelines.”

The parade will start at the middle school and proceed down School Hill to Route 4. It will then loop around Church, Horan and Jewell streets back to Route 4 and the high school.

Students are encouraged to decorate their vehicles. Arrival should be at the elementary school at 5:45 p.m. If more than one car is needed, they should plan to line up together. Tune in to 106.1 FM while the promotion parade is ongoing.

The promotion may also be viewed on the district’s Facebook page.

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