Aiken Middle celebrates final ‘Holidays in The Swamp’

December 22, 2018

The “Holidays in the Swamp” Finale at Aiken Middle School was a time not only to celebrate student talent but also to reflect on the past.

As they have for the last two years, Aiken Middle’s Gators filled The Swamp, as students affectionately call their school, with music, dance, literature and drama Thursday night in front of a standing-room audience of parents, siblings and friends in the cafeteria.

But the celebration took on a reflective tone this year with the closing of the school at the end of the academic year. The building and campus of Aiken Middle will become the home of the new Aiken Intermediate School for all sixth-graders in Area 1 when classes start in August.

Although the event was the last, it was “definitely the best yet,” Principal Scott Floyd said.

“Our theme this year is Making Gator History,” Scott said. “Because this is the last year of our school, we’re going all out, and we’re all in until the very end of this school.”

Scott started content nights when he came to the school three years ago. “Holidays in the Swamp,” fusing English language arts with fine and performing arts, was the biggest. Other nights showcased math and science.

“One of the things I wanted to do was increase parent participation, and the way I wanted to do that was by showing parents content,” Scott said. “The purpose is for parents not just to come into the building but for them to understand what their students are learning so that they can engage their students at home. This night is all about that and kind of a culmination.”

Scott will move to Schofield Middle next year as principal, and Denise McCray, Schofield’s current principal, will be the first principal at Aiken Intermediate.

“I’m excited about Schofield, but my heart is with Aiken Middle School right now; and it will be until the doors close and the last yellow school bus leaves this place,” Scott said. “I’m particularly excited because many of my students will be going with me. I love these families. They know me. I know them, so to be able to continue with them in a different building – I couldn’t ask for anything else.”

During the program, the band performed holiday songs; students read from their writings; and Theatre I students performed a one-act Christmas play, “Great Day in Starflake County Court.”

For the grand finale, musical theatre students performed selections from “Hamilton” and “The Greatest Showman.”

Between performances, teachers shared their reflections of the school, which opened in mobile units on the Schofield campus in 1995 and moved into its new building in 1996.

“Because this is the last year of Aiken Middle School, we wanted to take the opportunity to take a journey through The Swamp since its inception,” Scott said.

Patsy Davis noted that the student population reached its peak in 2000 with 800 students.

“That’s what happens when you get to be the best middle school,” Debbie Smith said. “Everybody wants to come here.”

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