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Empowering Unique Learners
Miriam transition key: A symbol of home and lasting memories
Katie Stalter

Memories are inspired by photos… By diaries… And by keys?
At Miriam, the answer is 100-percent yes. Anyone who leaves or graduates from Miriam Lower/Middle School receives a transition key – a symbol that they will always have a home at Miriam School.


“People love it here, and it’s a hard place to leave,” said Mary Cognata, head of the Lower/Middle School. “It’s a way to let them know that they are always part of our community, and we want them to feel like they are welcome.” 

No, it does not actually unlock the door, but it is a memento that holds a lot of power. This unique school transition tradition helps reinforce the bond between students and the Miriam community.

Cognata said when she sees a former student, they nearly always mention still having their key. One former student wears it around his neck.

This tradition started more than 27 years ago – before Cognata, who has been here 25 years, and before Jane Colt, who is retiring this summer after 27 years as executive assistant. She may not know exactly when it started, but Cognata is confident it will continue well into the future.

“I think it means more to them than getting a diploma. You would think we gave them a winning lottery ticket!” Cognata said.

“But it reminds them of their happy times here. And even when they have had difficult times, they knew people cared for them. They knew they were in a place where people believed in them.”

Miriam 8th grader with teacher

The transition key symbolizes the strong sense of belonging and support that students experience throughout their educational journey at Miriam. It is a tangible reminder of the school’s commitment to fostering lasting memories and a supportive school culture.

By integrating these traditions and keepsakes, Miriam School continues to build a legacy of educational excellence and a nurturing community in St. Louis that extends beyond graduation.

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