Westerly School of Long Beach celebrates the graduation of 17 eighth graders, showcasing a strong cohort of lifelong learners


Westerly School of Long Beach, a leading private independent K-8 school, proudly announces the successful graduation of 17 exceptional eighth-grade students on June 14, 2023. This momentous occasion not only marks their academic achievements but also highlights the unique bond formed by more than half the class, who have been together at Westerly for a remarkable nine years.

Westerly’s graduating class of 2023 has exemplified the school’s commitment to fostering lifelong learners, with their unwavering dedication and intellectual curiosity. Their achievements stand as a testament to the valuable education provided at Westerly, which prepares students for a seamless transition into high school and beyond.

An eighth grade graduate takes the stage to deliver a heartfelt speech about her experience at Westerly School, sharing, “despite our differing backgrounds, beliefs, and values, we were still able to come together and create a strong sense of community.”

These outstanding graduates have been accepted into a range of prestigious high schools and pathways, further reflecting the well-rounded education they received at Westerly. The high schools they will be attending include:

Long Beach Polytechnic High School (CIC and PACE)
Saint Anthony High School
Wilson High School (WAVE)
Vistamar School
Chadwick School
McBride High School
Huntington Beach High School
Marlborough School


Westerly School takes immense pride in the accomplishments of all of its phenomenal students and their progression into the next phase of their academic journey.

The graduates dazzle the Westerly community with a show-stopping surprise dance performance to the beat of Bruno Mars’s ’24K Magic’.

An important part of the ceremony featured the honoring of two amazing students with the “Valedictorian” and “Westerly Way” awards. The Valedictorian award is earned by the eighth grade student who has the highest grade point average throughout middle school at Westerly and requires high performance in both academic (Humanities, Math, Science) and co-curricular courses (2D and 3D Art, Music, Physical Education, Spanish). This year, Addison Hamdi was named as Valedictorian for the Class of 2023. Addison has attended Westerly from Kindergarten through 8th grade; a few ways her teachers describe her as a student include: “unparalleled amongst her peers in her approach to school every single day,” “pays close attention to detail,” and “has never met a challenge or obstacle that she didn’t quickly embrace and work hard to overcome.”

Class of 2023 Valedictorian Addison Hamdi stands alongside Westerly Head of School Dr.Lauren Plant and Assistant Head of School David Perram, as she is recognized for her academic excellence throughout middle school.

The recipient of the Westerly Way award is determined by students’ performance as well as feedback from their teachers – each year, the Westerly faculty votes for the eighth grader who most embodies and demonstrates the mission and core values of Westerly School, and is exemplary across all potential dimensions of personal development including artistic, athletic and academic achievement. This year’s recipient is Helena Donato-Sapp, who has also attended Westerly from K-8th grade. She is a highly accomplished student with a multitude of accolades including being a published author, guest lecturer, and keynote speaker, in addition to being granted the national science award of “16 Under 16 in STEM,” named one of the country’s most impressive teen thinkers in science, recognized as a 2023 “Woman of Distinction” by California’s 69th Assembly District, and more. Most recently, Helena’s artwork was selected to grace the cover of the 2023 LGBT Heritage Month Calendar and Cultural Guide for the City of Los Angeles, and she was named as a Youth Poet Ambassador for the City of Long Beach’s Youth Poet Laureate Program.

Helena Donato-Sapp, recipient of the prestigious Westerly Way award, shares a heartwarming moment with her supportive parents, Jeff Sapp and Sino Donato.

In addition to celebrating the graduating class and spotlighting its Valedictorian and Westerly Way award recipients, Westerly School announces a transition in leadership. After five years of dedicated service as Westerly’s Head of School, Dr. Lauren Plant will be departing for a new headship role at Sinai Akiba Academy, a private Los Angeles-based Jewish day school serving students in early childhood through Grade 8. Dr. Plant has made a significant impact on the Westerly community, guiding the school through a period of growth and academic excellence. Her dedication to fostering an engaging and inclusive environment has helped shape Westerly into the one-of-a-kind institution it is today.

Westerly School is pleased to introduce its new Head of School, Rebecca Geary, who will assume her role on July 1, 2023. With extensive experience in educational leadership and a passion for cultivating the potential of each student, Geary is poised to lead Westerly into a promising future. Her innovative vision directly aligns with the school’s commitment to providing an inquiry-based education that develops the whole child.

The Class of 2023 graduates stand proud, wearing their chosen class color, blood red.

About Westerly School of Long Beach:
Westerly School is a private independent school where families can discover an extraordinary educational experience from Kindergarten to 8th grade. With a robust academic program, dedicated faculty, and a nurturing environment, Westerly offers an unparalleled journey that prepares students for success in high school and beyond. Embrace the Westerly community and provide your children with a dynamic educational path by contacting [email protected] for more information or to schedule a visit.

Learn more about Westerly School’s mission to ignite a lifelong love of learning at www.westerlyschool.org.

Amber Dickens, Director of Admissions
[email protected]

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One Comment:

  1. Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

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