Montessori Center School’s 15 grinning graduates gather for a Class of 2008 photo. (Kelly Conerly photo / Montessori Center School)

In its 43rd year, Montessori Center School was proud to graduate 15 students to junior high Thursday.

Those 15 students delivered their final words to the student body, faculty, parents and grandparents as they graduated from MCS’ Upper Elementary program. These students will be moving on to junior high throughout Santa Barbara, to Goleta Valley, La Colina and La Cumbre junior highs and Anacapa School. With tears, sadness, excitement and anticipation Jodi Balster, Santi Bollag, Eric Capelle, Phillip Downey, Jessie Edgar, Ben Ghitterman, Maddy Greenbaum, Jack Haley, Genevieve Hatfield, Madeline Matthys, Natalie Ochsner, Eli Pratt, Maddie Rodriguez, Ellen Seale and Joseph Sriprajittichai crossed the stage to accept their diplomas from Head of School, Nelda Nutter.

Final words from some of the graduates:

“We have one important thing in common: our Montessori education that has taught us to love and appreciate differences and to understand that they enrich our lives.” — Jack Haley

“In the words of Reverend Run … ‘Difficulties are always there. They are part of life and it’s good they are there; otherwise there would be no growth. Difficulties are challenges. They provoke you to work, to think, to find ways to overcome them.’ So, always take difficulties as blessings.” — Eli Pratt

“All of my teachers inspired me to do something amazing in my life and I want to appreciate them for all they have done for me.” — Maddy Rodriguez

“My teachers and my friends have been my heroines and heroes to me. They have taught me to learn and love learning and to help and be helpful, and I will take that with me as I leave MCS and keep it forever.” — Ellen Seale

In addition to the Upper Elementary graduates, MCS is proud to announce 99 students promoted to the next level of our other programs:

» Thirty-five students promoted out of our Pre-Primary level (18 months to 2.9 years)

» Twenty-nine students out of the Primary level (3 years to kindergarten)

» Thirty-five out of our lower elementary level (1st to 3rd grade)

For more than 40 years, Montessori Center School has provided students age 18 months through 12 years with creative and compelling education in a supportive, nurturing environment. MCS is a dynamic community of more than 300 children and approximately 50 faculty and staff. MCS implements the internationally renowned Montessori Method of teaching and works to ensure that the school flourishes for today’s children and for generations to come.

MCS is a nonprofit educational organization, independently operated but affiliated with the American Montessori Society and licensed by the California Department of Social Services. MCS’ mission is to offer a Montessori education that encourages intellectual, social, physical, creative and moral development, while preparing students for academic excellence, confident lifelong learning and responsible, caring lives. In addition, Montessori is a style of education that integrates learning and living, thinking and feeling, self and community, focus and activity.

Kelly Conerly is development and public relations director at Montessori Center School.