Above: Firefighter Easton Dubois does the dousing honors at Bakersville Elementary’s fourth-grade graduation fling.
MANCHESTER, NH – Celebrating the last day of elementary school is always a good time for a kid. It means summer is just around the bend. Class of 2022 fourth-graders at Bakersville Elementary were definitely feeling it Tuesday, hunkered down in their happy place for a last hurrah as Bakersville Bulldogs.
It was all fun and games, as it should be for kids teetering on the edge of 10. Still, there was a hint of sadness in their eyes when asked if they were ready for next year, which means stepping up to middle school at Southside.
“I do feel sad, and a little nervous,” said Misturh Badmos, whose best subject is math and who already knows she wants to join City Year when she’s old enough. “I want to help other kids,” she says. Bakersville has been the only school she’s ever attended, arriving in Manchester with her family from Nigeria when she was “just a little kid.” So leaving Bakersville means stepping into the unknown for her.
She circles back to a picnic table to pick at the rest of her lunch, sliding in close to Rachel Berets, one of six City Year NH corps members who were assigned to Bakersville. Their year of service concludes in August when Berets, of Massachusetts, will return to school to earn her master’s in education. Her time at Bakersville has solidified her future goals, as well.
The graduation celebration for fourth-graders also included a visit from Manchester Fire Department, there to christen them with the refreshing waters of accomplishment from the ceremonial fire hose of infinite joy.
Firefighter Easton Dubois did the honors, first from ground level sending an arc of spray into the air that rained down on the kids, who clamored for more when the hose went dry. He obliged, from atop Engine 9 this time, giving the impeller a twist and delivering more water to the kids on a hot summer day.
He acknowledged that seeing them having so much fun took him right back to his own elementary school days.
“We’ll do anything we can for the community,” he said.
Karen Borrentos-Flores and Sara Diaz, who agreed that they are “besties for life,” took turns jumping in the lingering puddles and moving their bodies like tiny steamrollers, across the asphalt which generated giggles in the same way a bubble machine sends soapy spheres into the atmosphere.
“Fun!,” said Karen.
“Yeah, so much fun,” said Sara, jumping up and opening her blue-striped beach towel like a terry-cloth wing to let Karen in.
Ward 10 Alderman Bill Barry assisted by helping out with grill duties, along with Derek Manfra, board vice president for school district partner HOPE NH (Helping our Pupils Excel), providing a bottomless supply of burgers and dogs, plus chips and cookies.
Matt Courchesne, Executive Director of HOPE NH, has been working with the students from Bakersville, an extension of the work he does at Elmwood Gardens and also with MyTurn teen drop-in center. Standing on the playground, under a big blue sky, Courchesne can see the future.
“We’re going to be here for these kids all the way through high school and beyond,” he says. His HOPE program, which already has a dozen years of success working with students at-risk of falling through the cracks, is grounded in the formation of positive relationships, making use of community resources and creating opportunities.
“Relationships, resources and opportunities, that’s what it’s all about,” Courchesne said, pressing pause long enough to open a giant tub of sidewalk chalk for a student. “These kids are about to go to middle school and life is about to get crazy, but we’re going to be there with them, every step of the way.”
Below: Scenes from the last day of elementary school for Bakersville fourth-grade students.