Teachers and staff at Chalone Peaks Middle School in King City gather to say goodbye to students as their families drive them through the campus parking lot. (Photos by Sean Roney)

KING CITY — Eighth-grade students at Chalone Peaks Middle School were promoted last week with a virtual ceremony and in-person caravan drive around town.

The June 10 ceremony, complete with speeches, was streamed live online, meanwhile students rode as passengers in their family vehicles, starting at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds, crossing town and ending up at the middle school, where teachers and staff gathered to wave goodbye.

Under usual circumstances, a promotion ceremony would have taken place with crowds and a stage at the fairgrounds. The Covid-19 pandemic, however, caused this year’s changes.

“This has been a different year and one that has taught us many things,” said Matt Daniels, principal at Chalone Peaks, in his speech to the eighth graders. “This year we’ve had to learn to be flexible, to adapt to a world that can change in an instant. We learned how to persevere.”

Daniels noted the changes were forced upon everyone and he understands how everyone misses the normalcy of smiles, laughs and high-fives.

“We were grateful for our technology to help us through it, but we all missed being together, face-to-face,” he said.

He reminded students to value their education and work harder in high school than they did in middle school.

“Students, I’m proud of fine young people that you are, who do rise to the challenge and make the best of things,” Daniels said. “Parents, thank you for supporting your students. They would not be the fine young people they are without you.”

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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