CANTON - Joining in song, the sixth grade class at Canton Elementary School seized the future.

"We're the promise of a brilliant age that's just begun."

"We're the hope of tomorrow, growing up before your eyes."

"We're the future, we're the promise, we're the prize."

On Thursday evening, the Canton Area School District held a Grade 6 Promotion Ceremony for the class of 80 students in the Nelle Black Westgate Auditorium to mark the students' next step in their academic careers and say goodbye to elementary school.

The stage was set.

Red and white carnations were arranged in bouquets, "2012" was placed in large white numbers against long black curtains, and a pianist's fingers danced across the keys, her delicate notes intermingling with the murmurs from the audience as the program began.

And then the students made their grand entrance, filing in and standing before their seats. Some smiled, some looked ahead, some chatted with one another, some waved hello, some seemed to contemplate their surroundings.

"I would like to introduce you to the future Class of 2018," said elementary principal John Rimmer in his welcome address.

It seemed not so long ago, he said, that the students were enrolled in kindergarten.

How time flies!

Rimmer noted that junior high offers them many opportunities. He urged the parents to support their children, encourage them to pursue their interests, resist peer pressure, and reach for their goals.

"I congratulate you on your accomplishments thus far," he told the students.

Good Citizenship Awards were presented to Andrea McNett and Connor Hess. The PTA Academic Awards, meanwhile, honored students with the highest averages in particular subjects: Silas Binford, math; Alana Castle, reading/language arts; and Joelle Urban, science/social studies.

The elementary teachers were invited to attend the ceremony, and kindergarten teacher Beth Cole was one of the many who filled row after row of seats to watch the event.

She herself had gone through the same experience many years ago when she was a student.

"It's a very old tradition here," she said.

She said the message to the students is a positive one - "wow, you've got this far, keep going."

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: reviewtroy@thedailyreview.com.