Mr. Merritt's Class | Leaving No Child Behind

Sights and sounds from the final weeks and days of fifth grade.

Photography and multimedia production by Gary O'Brien - gobrien@charlotteobserver.com

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Goodbye, my friends
Friday, June 9 - One last time, the fifthgraders board the buses for home. The teachers wave goodbye, then release their pent-up mixture of joy, sadness, relief and frustration. For some, another summer break begins. For Jeremiah Merritt, it's the beginning of a new chapter in his life.
alexis_goodbye
Last game of the year
Friday, June 9 - Throughout the year, Mr. Merritt and the boys blew off steam playing touch football on the playground. Friday afternoon, minutes before the buses were ready to roll, Merritt gathered the boys (and one girl, Tai-Asia Rios) together for one last pep talk.
Last game of the year
Not letting go, just yet
Friday, June 9 - After a group photo, Mr. Merritt calls the class to him for one last hug. The last day of school is a day when classroom colleagues can put away the business of learning and show their affection for one another. Kids can drop the role of serious student and be kids for a day.
group hug
Report cards
Friday, June 9 - With all the attention paid to the End Of Grade testing, report cards are almost an afterthought for many students. They compare their scores, read each others' evaluations and move on to celebrating their last day.
report cards
Party time
Friday, June 9 - With the help of some teachers and the school's front office, the fifthgraders frantically decorate their stripped-down classroom for a surprise party for Mr. Merritt. Streamers, pizza, drinks, cookies, awards and presents are the order of the day.
party time
I don't want you to go
Thursday, June 8 - After the graduation ceremony, Jermey Steele wraps his arms around Mr. Merritt's waist and cries. He doesn't want this year to come to an end. He says he'll miss Merry Oaks, and Mr. Merritt. He brightens a bit, remembering that he'll be attending Merritt's summer camp.
sad jermey
Mr. Merritt tells it like it is
Thursday, June 8 - Invited to make the keynote address at the graduation ceremony, Mr. Merritt delivers a ringing speech, challenging parents, teachers and students to "preserve the air we've pumped into your balloon". He warned students to remember what they learned at Merry Oaks.
Merritt's speech
Showtime!
Thursday, June 8 - Before he sent them to graduate, Mr. Merritt gave last-minute instructions. "Remember, we're serious. Stand straight up," he said. "Let's show them how much we've learned. Let's show them how mature we are. No gum."
Showtime!
What a good-looking fellow
Thursday, June 8 - Raekwon Boykin came a long way during the school year, becoming a better student and controlling his emotions. Looking sharp, he puts a final tilt on his cardboard mortarboard while Mr. Merritt compliments him on how good he looks.
Handsome Raekwon
Miguel's new suit
Thursday, June 8 - Waiting for the EOG results was agonizing for the entire class, but especially so for Miguel Sanchez. His mother promised him a new suit for graduation, but only after the test results were out. Miguel looked sharp in his new suit at graduation.
Miguel's bow tie