Elementary students graduate at Ivy League campus

New Haven, Conn. (WTNH) — It was graduation day on the campus of Yale University but the students are not going on to jobs and grad school, instead they’re moving on to middle school.

It’s fitting that it’s pouring rain as the kids arrive for the last day of school because it was water that brought them there to Yale’s West Campus in the first place.

“Morning of January 6th. A couple of water pipes in the ceiling had burst from the cold temperatures that had turned warm very late at night on Sunday night,” said Eric Carbone, Peck Place School Principal.

Peck Place School.
Peck Place School.

Flooding from the burst pipes revealed asbestos at Peck Place Elementary, and that left this Orange elementary school with no place to go. That’s when Yale University stepped up.

“We had the space here on the west campus. We loved the idea of enlivening the west campus with children,” said Peter Salovey, Yale University President.

The West Campus used to be Bayer Pharmaceutical and it had an empty office building they turned into a school by the end of January.

“With all the big windows and all the sun coming in and all the little rooms. It was really great,” said Brian Focari, Peck Place Graduate.

“It was so newer. And it wasn’t like a regular school, it was almost better,” said Ethan Kaempfer, Peck Place Graduate.

Parents, others applaud Peck Place School graduation at Yale, June 19, 2014.
Parents, others applaud Peck Place School graduation at Yale, June 19, 2014.

They enjoyed this better school five months right through until Thursday as the sixth graders marched to their graduation – in Yale ponchos to protect them from the rain – while the rest of the school waved goodbye.

Yale paid for the ponchos and also the tent to keep everybody dry, the chairs, the stage, even the sound system, everything to make this an ivy-league style graduation.

“You are the first class of sixth graders ever to graduate from Yale University,” said Salovey.

The kids are so grateful they made letters in the window, I know they’re tough to see, they spell out “Thank You YALE.” And the nursing school wrote back with its own signs. All the students learned a lot, especially about overcoming obstacles.

“The lesson they’re going to take away from this is about perseverance. That life is going to give you these curve-balls and it’s about how you respond and today we will respond just fine,” said  Carbone.

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