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Moving Up Day Celebrates the Class of 2029

Pingry’s fifth-grade students were recognized for their achievements and began their transition to Middle School when the Lower School held its annual Moving Up Day outdoors on June 10.

Dr. Thu-Nga Morris, Assistant Head of School for the Short Hills Campus, lauded the students for their collective efforts and hard work, and for exemplifying the Honor Code. She also praised the faculty and staff for going above and beyond during the pandemic, saying, “Many faculty and staff have stepped into roles they could never have imagined . . . all for the good of the students.” Now, as the fifth-grade students anticipate their move to Basking Ridge in the fall, they can look forward to continuing to experience “what it means to be part of the Pingry family.”

On this special day, the faculty commended students for participation in visual arts, drama, music (strings, Band, handbells), the Math Team, the Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge, Student Council, and World Peace Games (students worked in groups to solve 23 complicated problems that required patience and compromise as they tried to achieve world peace).

In particular, Visual Arts Teacher Russell Christian proclaimed “You’re all artists” and told the students that “art will always be with you, in some way.” Drama Teacher Keara Gordon has been impressed by the students’ capabilities in musicals, radio plays, puppet shows, improvisation, and more, and she was thrilled to offer live theater this year.

Lower School Math Specialist Verna Lange P ’23, ’24, ’26, ’28 spoke about students’ participation in the Mathematics Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools (MOEMS)—five monthly tests with five problems each, taken each year by hundreds of thousands of students around the world; several fifth-grade students placed among the top 50 percent, top 90–97 percent, or top 2 percent nationwide. For the “Highest Team Achievement” award, the qualifying score was 179—Pingry’s Lower School Math Team scored 211, which is 18 percent higher than the cut-off. And, Pingry won the Math League National State Championship with a score of 236 (the second-place team scored 197), which is also 18 percent higher than the 200 points needed for national recognition. Mrs. Lange also announced that Hayden Chiang qualified for the Math League National Championship, taking place in Texas later in June.

Lower School P.E. Coordinator and Health Teacher Leslie Miller P ’29, ’31 presented on the Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge (five tests that measure cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and agility), and its award for students who score in the top 15 percent in the nation in all five categories. Five fifth-grade students achieved this standard: Gavin Grunstra, Hayden Chiang, Katherina Kazanov, Jack Schwarting, and Lilly Spacek. She also announced that the Blue Team won Field Day (a day of games and activities with students split into Blue and White Teams).

Addressing the students, Head of School Matt Levinson quoted a Lower School student who said that the past three years felt like a “superhero” period, with Pingry beating a global pandemic. Mr. Levinson added, “The faculty and staff wore capes,” as their talent and dedication helped keep the school open. Keeping the Honor Code in mind in Basking Ridge, students should “put the common good first . . . think about what is best for the community.”

Twenty-seven students were recognized for attending Pingry since Kindergarten, and the ceremony included three annual honors that are named for former Lower School teachers and families:

Auchincloss Award (showing the most concern for others)—Aavyan Anand, Maeve Guest, and Allen Tan

Evelyn M. Chester Achievement Prize (amount and quality of sustained effort dedicated to both academic pursuits and personal growth)—Ella Chan, Anika Gupta, Sanvi Jain, and Levi Pearl

Joann M. Jackson Citizenship Award (exemplifying the Honor Code through actions)—Gavin Grunstra, Leo Lvoff, and Lily Macmillan

Contact: Greg Waxberg ’96, Communications Writer, Editor of The Pingry Review