In-Person Graduation Ceremonies Return to Beverly Hills

On June 8, both Hawthorne Elementary School and Horace Mann Elementary School held their first in-person promotion ceremonies for fifth-graders–the first event of its kind since the district-wide reconfiguration in 2019. At Hawthorne, Principal Sarah Kaber and Assistant Principal Kevin Painter spoke, in addition to several students and fifth-grade teachers. Similarly, speakers at Horace Mann included Principal Craig Bugbee and Assistant Principals Samantha Jung and Chris Regan. At the event, teachers and students also honored Mason Duncan-Book, a fifth-grader who tragically passed away of Leukemia in November. Unlike like last year, traditional campus graduation ceremonies continued June 9, with the Beverly Vista Middle School (BVMS) eighth-grade graduation, and on June 10 with the Beverly Hills High School (BHHS) class of 2021 graduation. 

With much to celebrate, the mood was jovial during the June 8 Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) Board of Education meeting. 

“I really want to commend the people that worked on those and organized them,” Board President Rachelle Marcus said of the ceremonies. “Remember last year we didn’t have it, so they were really working from scratch…they did a magnificent job.” Board members continued to praise the articulate, heartfelt, and humorous speeches made by the district’s younger students as they prepared to move up to middle school.  

“It was a really, really difficult year,” Vice President Tristan Walker-Schuman said. “But my God, there is such a sense of appreciation amongst the students, the family, the faculty and staff at each one of these promotions.”

The Board also announced the appointment of the new BVMS Principal Dr. Kelly Skon, who will be replacing outgoing principal, Kevin Allen, who will assume the position in July. “I am thrilled to join the Beverly Vista Middle School family,” Skon told the Courier. “During each step of the interview process, I met amazing teachers, staff, administrators, parents, and students. The positivity and energy each one of them displayed is a testament to the community and dedication of those at BVMS and the Beverly Hills Unified School District. As the Principal of BVMS, I look forward to continuing the work of developing a robust middle school that truly meets the needs of adolescent students.”

Dr. Skon boasts over 14 years of experience as an educator. Skon’s resume includes middle school math teacher, Common Core Site Lead at Laguna Beach Unified School District, and three years of district-level leadership at Saddleback Valley Unified School District. Most recently, she served as the Assistant Principal at Fountain Valley High School.

The Board also unanimously passed Resolution # 2020-2021-039 in support of the LGBTQ+ community, proclaiming the June Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month. Every year throughout the month of June, each school in the district will display a rainbow flag to signify support for the LGBTQ+ community. Currently, all BHUSD campuses and the district office proudly display the new Progress Pride Flag. 

“I’m excited to go to school tomorrow and see one at Horace Mann, where my daughter attends, and at the high school, where I teach,” Marla Weiss, a math and science teacher at BHHS said during public comment. “This will be amazing for children to see as they walk into the building.” With applause heard from the audience, Weiss added: “Our students should continue to grow up knowing love is love, no matter who loves who.”

The resolution was met with overwhelming support, with cheers and applause from those in attendance. 

“I would love to see it come sooner in the school year, so that it could be a part of the education and the community in the schools,” Marcus said. “That’s the only thing I feel badly about.”

“We are anticipating a full opening for in person learning in the fall,” Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy said. “…But what’s in limbo is the discussion behind students that want to remain at home and not come back to school.” Bregy noted the financial implications involved, as the state allocates funds to school districts based on average daily attendance. 

“However, there still is a section of what’s being discussed right now from Governor Newsom and that is for those that wish to continue to learn in an independent study format,” Bregy said. “We fully believe that the best experience for our students is to return to in person learning, and we will continue to push for some details about what that looks like if a student is uncomfortable, or in some way wants to stay in a virtual setting.”

While school is out for summer now, the next BHUSD Board of Education meeting will be held on June 22. 

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