Quincy Learning Center sixth-grader Santiago Mendez receives his certificate and gift bag from teacher Cindy Thackeray and Site Director Patrick Joseph at the 2021 sixth-grade graduation ceremony at the Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds. Photo by Ingrid Burke

Plumas Charter School honors graduating sixth-graders

By Ingrid Burke

Special to Plumas News

[email protected]


To mark completion of elementary school, two Plumas Charter School learning centers held sixth-grade graduations at the beginning of June. Teachers and staff acknowledged students’ hard work and resilience, especially during COVID, highlighted individual students’ characteristics, and provided advice and encouragement for the future.


Quincy Learning Center

Family, friends, teachers, and staff gathered at the Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds in Quincy for a breezy Quincy Learning Center sixth-grade graduation. A video of the ceremony is available on the PCS website at http://www.plumascharterschool.org/news/2020_2021_news/pcs_celebrates_graduating_sixth-graders.

Site Director Patrick Joseph asked the students what graduation means and pointed out that it can be an end, a beginning, and a transition. “All this is building, brick by brick, in preparation” for junior high, high school, and college, he said.

He also spoke of the additional learning that took place this year: beyond school subjects, students had to learn to adapt to different learning environments and changing guidelines due to the pandemic. “You all performed magnificently,” he said.

Sixth-grade teacher Cindy Thackeray then joined Joseph on stage. “I want you guys to know that I have lovedbeing your teacher,” she said. “This is a celebration of all the hard work that you have put in this year and the lessons that you have learned and the strategies that you have used in preparation for the next step in your journey.”


Thackeray pointed out that the class as a whole had developed perseverance, resilience, and flexibility. She then introduced each of her 12 students, presented him or her with a certificate and a “survival kit” of gifts, and acknowledged the individual achievements and characteristics that she appreciates about that student.

She read out students’ expressions of gratitude to their family, friends, and teachers, and shared their hobbies and goals for the future. One theme for this adventurous class was a common aspiration to go skydiving!

“Now that I am moving into seventh grade I am very happy to get new experiences but I am sad to leave old ones behind,” wrote graduate Jakodi Gallagher. “Once again I want to thank all these people for helping me on this journey that just keeps going.”

Greenville Learning Center

The third annual Greenville Learning Center sixth-grade graduation was held at the rodeo grounds in Taylorsville, where a parent’s flatbed trailer — decorated by parent volunteers — served as a stage.


GLC Site Coordinator Andre Essue and fifth- and sixth-grade teacher Jennifer Van Acker offered remarks. Van Acker then introduced the seven graduates and shared their favorite memories and highlights of elementary school.

“Even though this year was mostly about adapting to the ‘new normals’ such as the daily temperature checks, continuous mask use and the practicing of social distancing, I feel that we still made some pretty amazing memories!” said Van Acker. Some favorites included the November polar bear plunge in Wolf Creek, laughing with friends, kayaking, and paddleboarding.

Van Acker also shared her students’ plans for the future: the graduating sixth-graders plan to become a pilot, a Lego master, a construction worker, a professional athlete, a hoverboard designer, a game developer, and a landscaper.

The students then delivered speeches reflecting their understanding of Plumas Charter School’s core values: respect, compassion, responsiveness, and accountability. (Read the speeches on the PCS website at http://www.plumascharterschool.org/news/2020_2021_news/pcs_celebrates_graduating_sixth-graders.)


“As you progress onward to middle school, many things will change, and many things will remain the same,” said Van Acker. “You will grow and change and I believe that each of you has the potential to achieve great things. I am so proud of each and every one of you; you worked so hard to be where you are.”

To learn more about Plumas Charter School — which also operates learning centers in Taylorsville and Chester — visit plumascharterschool.org.

 Ingrid Burke is the public relations specialist for Plumas Charter School.

A decorated flatbed trailer provides a stage for Greenville Learning Center’s graduating sixth-graders and their teacher, Jennifer Van Acker, during the ceremony at the Taylorsville rodeo grounds. Photo courtesy Plumas Charter School
Graduating sixth-grader Isis McGill applauds her fellow graduates during a ceremony to mark their completion of elementary school. Photo by Ingrid Burke
Graduating sixth-grader Alivia Schramel receives her certificate from Greenville Learning Center Site Coordinator Andre Essue and teacher Jennifer Van Acker during a graduation ceremony in Taylorsville. Photo courtesy Plumas Charter School
The Joseph family gathers to celebrate daughter Lucy’s graduation from sixth grade at Plumas Charter School’s Quincy Learning Center. Father Patrick also serves as the learning center’s site director. Photo by Ingrid Burke