WESTERLY — The hallways of Springbrook Elementary School rang out with cheers and sustained applause Tuesday as students greeted Westerly High School seniors who quickly walked through the school getting high fives from all along the way.
A similar scene played out at the Dunn's Corners and State Street elementary schools and Westerly Middle School as the high schools' Class of 2019, just three days from their commencement, participated in the parade of graduates event.
"I'm feeling pretty nostalgic and excited to see everyone. It brings back a lot of memories. I haven't been there since fourth grade," said senior Faith Bailey as she waited to board a bus that was going from the high school to Springbrook.
Thomas McLaughlin was heading to Westerly Middle School, where his brother and sister are students. "I think it's going to be fun. It will be fun to see my old teachers," he said.
When the bus arrived at Springbrook School, a group of kindergarten children were outside with their teachers. They waved as their older visitors disembarked and waited to enter the school.
"They're waving to us," one of the seniors shrieked, clearly touched by the moment.
Jenna and Jaime Murray, twin sisters, said they were looking forward to visiting their old elementary school.
"I'm really excited to see our old teachers and the kids who look up to us. I hope we make a good impression on them," Jenna Murray said.
Emily Haik was also eager for the bus to arrive to the high school before leaving for Springbrook School. "It's a fun experience to see where we were 12 years ago compared to where we are now," she said.
Denise Oliveira, chairwoman of the high school English Department, and Marianne Mirando, a library media specialist at the school, helped organize the event in their roles as advisers to the Class of 2019.
"It's a very sweet project. It's important for the little ones and it's nice for the older kids to be looked up to by the little ones," Mirando said.
Last year was the first time seniors from the high school visited the middle school and the three elementary schools. "We're trying to make it a tradition," Oliveira said. Ones like it are becoming common at schools throughout the country.
Oliveira said the seniors who participate function as ambassadors, spreading goodwill and the high school's positive spirit.
"It shows the younger people where they can end up...with this kind of pride," Oliveira said.
Springbrook Elementary School Principal Susan Martin watched as the high school students walked up and down the hallways delivering high fives to their younger friends. She later stepped outside where the high school students met with the kindergarten children.
"It's a great event. Many of the high school students volunteer here so it's really nice for them to see the kids they worked with as they celebrate their success. And, for those of us who are older, we know how those 12 years fly by," Martin said.