September 27, 2023

Berg Middle School eighth graders get a carnival sendoff for last day of classes

Teachers make sure students have a memorable end to middle school experience

Eighth-grade students at Berg Middle School celebrate their last day as middle schoolers on May 26 by participating in carnival activities.

It was a circus at Berg Middle School. Literally.

While their fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade peers finished their remaining classes of the 2022-2023 school year indoors on May 26, the eighth graders celebrated their final day at Berg Middle School enjoying all the perks of a carnival: fresh popcorn, cotton candy, inflatables, a dunk tank, water games — the list goes on.

For the past few years, the middle school has provided their graduating eighth graders a fun, over-the-top sendoff. Organized by teachers Jenna Bakeris, Emily Chhouy, Mallory Shipley and Brittany Vail, the eighth-grade carnival originally started out as a day to give out snow cones. Then fundraising ballooned the idea.

“It worked out so well it turned into this carnival,” Vail told Newton News the day of the festivities. “So this is our third year, and each year it just keeps getting better and better. This year we have our bounce house slide and dunk tank, a striker, ice cream, bingo, tie dye, all kinds of stuff.”

Why end the school year like this? Vail said a few teachers a while back felt students deserved a memorable way to end their middle school experience. They’re about to go off to the high school, she said, and staff wanted to make a day where students and teachers can hang out and have fun one last time.

“This is such a fun way for us teachers to end our school year with the kids,” Vail said. “We get to build some really fun memories on the last day. Rather than being inside trying to plan things, we can all just be out here to supervise, monitor and have fun with the kids.”

Chhouy loves taking part in the carnival and seeing everyone come together for a last hurrah. This year was even more special for her, too, because her daughter was graduating eighth grade. Chhouy, who was a student of Berg Middle School in the ‘90s, remembers her eighth grade year ended with a pool party.

Compared to the carnival that has gone on for the past three years, Chhouy may just pick today’s activities over a pool party. Especially if the carnival continues to grow. The chaotically fun atmosphere and ear-to-ear smiles tell staff that the event must be doing something right.

“The students know they’re celebrated,” Chhouy said. “It’s hard because some are excited for summer, some are dreading the summer and some are nervous for high school. This is one last good memory. They still get to be kids and they’re not too cool for it yet. I love seeing them like this because they do have fun.”

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.