CRESTVIEW — Reann Cato said giving her anti-bullying speech in front of Walker Elementary School classmates felt great.
“I am very shy when it comes to saying a lot of things in front of a lot of people,” the 10-year-old said.
Stage fright aside, Reann knew she had to write the speech after being bullied and witnessing classmates experiencing the same ordeal.
“I have been seeing kids who have been picked on … or who have been really sad because they do not have that many friends and I just got tired of it,” she said. “I wanted everyone to feel equal.”
School Principal Jeanine Kirkland invited Reann to speak on the topic during Wednesday's Fifth Grade Honors and Awards Ceremony at the Crestview Community Center.
Reann is one of 94 fifth-graders heading into middle school next school year.
“We don’t call it a graduation, but a celebration,” school counselor Alicia Humphrey said.
Each student received a medal commemorating his or her time at the school. Almost 300 attendees recognized students' leadership and achievements, including outstanding attendance and academic performance.
“It’s an emotional day, knowing that he is going from elementary school to middle school,” Kizzie Martin said, referring to her 12-year-old son, Jailin. “I feel that he will do very well.”
Jailin, who also was honored with an A-B honor roll medal, said he looks forward to attending Davidson Middle School.
“It was a lot of work,” he said. “It was a lot of homework and a lot of hard work."
Reann's grandfather, Rick Draper, praised his granddaughter's standardized testing skills.
“She scored the highest FCAT score in math throughout the state,” he said. “She even got a letter from Gov. Rick Scott and State Rep. Matt Gaetz (congratulating her accomplishment).”
Reann said it's time for the next phase of her education.
“I have been at Walker for six years and I am ready to move on,” she said.