OTTAWA — The eighth-graders that graduated from SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Elementary School in Ottawa on Wednesday were in kindergarten nine years ago. In fact, they were the first-ever kindergarten class at the school.
In accordance with the Ohio Health Department’s orders regarding social distancing, the graduation ceremony was held in the parking lot across the street from the school.
“It’s pretty exciting, the first group to go through all nine years, well mostly nine years,” said Connie Niese, principal at the school. “We figured we needed to do something for them. We have 34 students graduating from eighth grade.”
Niese says this year’s been challenging, given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The majority of them did a good job. We had a few that were struggling because they need that personal contact,” Niese said. “All of our teachers did Zoom meetings with the kids so they could see them face-to-face a little bit, talk to them and help them through.”
Morgan Zimmerly plans to attend Ottawa-Glandorf High School this fall and has some lofty goals.
“I am going to be a varsity cheerleader, and I’m going to take my faith with me that I’ve had here at SPPS and all I’ve learned,” Zimmerly said.
She was excited to graduate after being in the first kindergarten class at the school.
“This is really important to me because I’ve been here for nine years,” Zimmerly said. “This is like some sort of closure and our last time to see all of our friends. It’s important for me to be able to see everyone and say our last goodbyes, even though we can’t hug, but it’s really important just to see everyone and say thank you.”
Several students who were part of that first kindergarten class wrote parishioners in late January and thanked them for supporting the school. Their letters are posted on the school’s Facebook page.
Eighth-grader Joey Payer wrote: “I like this school for many reasons. One of the reasons is because of Catholic Schools Week. We do many things during this week, like wearing different types of clothing and having parents’ day at the end of the week. I used to go to a public school. I have seen many differences between that school and SPPS. For starters, you get to learn about your faith,” Payer wrote.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.