• Melinda Murphy

Surprise 5th grade celebration

Courtesy WAMU


On Tuesday, 11-year-old Taj Young was very surprised to see all four of his 5th-grade teachers from Murch Elementary School in Northwest D.C. on his front lawn.


Apart from a loud “Oh!” he was speechless, as teachers Kelly Crabtree, Daniel Marcus, Corri Deegan and Vickie Otten shouted “We love you!” and “Congratulations!” as they tossed him a custom made class T-shirt with the school’s logo and every student’s name on it. They also planted a blue and yellow yard sign on his lawn. Taj was one of the 98 homes they stopped at during a grueling 11-hour day visiting each and every student in the 5th grade.

But teacher Kelly Crabtree couldn’t bear the thought of her 5th graders ending the year without their traditional last day “clap out.” “That’s when they would walk through the entire school and everyone is clapping for them.”


So they decided on a caravan of cars, with all the Murch teachers participating. Also the principal, vice principal and guidance counselor. Monique Weber teaches kindergarten and says this is a big deal for the graduating class. “They’ve been here since Pre-K and we’ve seen their struggles and we want them to know they’re not forgotten.”


Teacher Corri Deegan says at Murch, these 10- and 11-year-olds are used to being the oldest. “Here, they’re the big dogs on campus. And going to middle school, they’ve got to start fresh. So for them to go in confident, knowing they have teachers who love them and support them is important.”


A few blocks away, Chinh Nguyen is standing with his best friend Quan Vu outside their apartment complex on Connecticut Avenue. Chinh says his teachers helped him a lot this year, especially with math, so having a chance to see them again was great. “It means I’m pretty special.”


Vu agrees. “It means a lot to me because they’re still trying to make us happy while we’re quarantined.”


Theo Segal says seeing the cars go by was showed him how much his teachers cared. “Because this whole situation is really hard and this just feels good. It feels uplifting.”


Another fifth-grader, Jacqueline Cooper, likes that she got a unique graduation ceremony this year because graduating elementary school, she says, is no small deal. “There could be like a preschooler who made it through their first year. That’s an accomplishment. Making it through every year is an accomplishment.”

Student Klementyna McGuire says she’s excited about a new building and meeting many next people, but also nervous about middle school. “It’s gonna be pretty intimidating because I feel I have a place at Murch. But I think I’ll survive!”


And the honking cars, cheering teachers and caravan of love driving by were exactly the boost she needed.




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