BELOIT - McNeel Intermediate School's first class to attend all five years as part of the fourth through eighth grade model celebrated in its first even eighth grade promotion ceremony Thursday evening.
"We wanted to celebrate the kids going to high school and recognize their contributions to middle school," said Principal Michelle Hendrix-Nora.
Hendrix-Nora said the Class of 2023 is well prepared for high school.
Thursday's ceremony included speaker Gya' Williams, a Beloit Memorial High School 2011 graduate and a 2019 UW-Madison Law School graduate.
Students of the Year DeCarlos Nora III and Amery Stuckey gave speeches. Alonzo Barraza and Isabella Flores, were elected at Mr. and Ms. Lancer as a special honor. The big event for the 125-member class culminated with a dinner and dance in the gym.
Stuckey said the Class of 2023 was close after their five years together.
"I was really nervous and this school welcomed me with open arms. When Mrs. Nora came she was a welcoming person. It's easy to get to know everyone and teachers try to help you. You can really grow good relationships here. It's going to be really hard for me to leave," Stuckey said.
Stuckey has been involved in hockey, softball, volleyball, National Junior Honor Society, Minority Excellence Organization (MEO). Student Council, and the gifted and talented program. She hopes to become a crime scene investigator one day.
"I have a lot of friends and they are all cool," said DeCarlos Nora III, who has been active in National Junior Honor Society, MEO, basketball, football, track and baseball. He hopes to be an anesthesiologist.
Stuckey and DeCarlos Nora III also took algebra, a high school class during their time at the school.
Alonzo Barraza said he appreciated the academics, teachers, sports, opportunities at McNeel.
"Going through the year gave me the skills to get through high school," he said.
Barraza was active in track, soccer, football and softball.
When asked what he thought of the intermediate school model, he said McNeel's class are a good example of it.
He plans to pursue a career as an engineer one day or play in the NFL.
The students interviewed said going to high school will be a big transition for them and they were glad for the ceremony.
"It's all coming at me," Stuckey said. "Going to the next chapter of life is really hard."