STONINGTON— With elementary students and teachers cheering them on, members of Stonington High School’s 2018 graduating class participated in a meaningful and traditional ritual Wednesday, revisiting the halls where they were first educated.
It’s known as the senior walk. The soon-to-be graduates wore their caps and gowns as they journeyed through their past at West Vine Street School and West Broad Street School. “Pomp and Circumstance” was played over the PA system, a musical harbinger of Friday’s commencement ceremony that will catapult them into adulthood.
Wearing her white cap and gown, Isabelle Ross, 18, who will attend Three Rivers Community College, said she was moved by the experience of remembering where she was and how far she’s traveled.
“It just showed how much I grew, and it was very emotional seeing other people that I used to go to school with and the teachers and the students getting all excited,” she said.
Standing in the stairwell at West Broad Street School, Jamie Taylor, 17, who will attend Sarah Lawrence College in September, said walking through the school was a surreal experience.
“It’s very strange to go back. I got to see my first- and second-grade teacher and we took a big group photo,” she said. “It was fun to see the whole group together, because we’re all in high school together, but we don’t really see each other.”
Josh Schneider, 18, who will study at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., said it was meaningful to look back and celebrate the changes.
“It meant a lot to come back 12 years later and see both schools and how they’ve changed. West Vine has changed a lot and it was impressive to see the improvements they’ve made,” he said. “It was cool to see some of the teachers I had. You go from the pint-sized kid that you were then to the person you are now, and it’s just a drastic change and it’s cool to see.”
Alicia Dawe, principal of West Vine and West Broad, said the senior walk is intended partly to encourage and motivate elementary students.
“It’s an inspiring moment for our students. They get to see what they have in front of them,” Dawe said. “And it’s a treat for the teachers, because they get to see their former students and their accomplishments.”
Dawe said the senior walkthrough was her favorite day of the year.
“I get to see my former students and I get to see the looks on my current students’ faces, and they’re so excited to see them,” she said. “It’s joyful for me to see their faces and the teachers’ faces, so it’s a treat.”
Mateo Swepson, 10, a fourth-grader at West Broad who will attend Pawcatuck Middle School in September, said it was “pretty cool” seeing the 2018 graduates walk through the school.
“It was great to see all familiar faces and siblings and cousins and their family members just come to their school and walk by and see how much they have done throughout the years,” he said. “I think of it as when I’m older and graduating from Stonington High School, it will be cool to be one of those people seeing all new faces and new opportunities.”