With the boys wearing red caps and gowns and the girls donning white, the Crothersville High School Class of 2017 lined up in alphabetical order outside an entrance to Crothersville Elementary School.
It was time for the Senior Walk.
After going through the doors, they were greeted by the elementary’s 290 students lining the hallways clapping and cheering. Some of them chanted a graduate’s name or held up signs with congratulatory messages.
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Elementary teachers and staff members also clapped and cheered. Some took pictures or captured the moment on video.
It was a proud moment for all involved, as the graduates realized how far they had come, the elementary students were motivated to keep studying and working hard in school and the teachers could see former students reach a milestone.
Senior Brandon Banks led the Senior Walk. Having attended school in Crothersville since second grade, he said the walk was a great opportunity to see some of his former teachers.
“It honestly didn’t feel real the whole time we were lining up, and I kept looking back at the rest of the class thinking that we actually made it all the way to the end,” said Banks, who plans to join the U.S. Army after high school. “I thought the elementary walk did good because it shows kids what happens when you go through school and do your homework. It’s all worth it in the end.”
The seniors will make one final walk Friday when they go up to receive their high school diplomas. Graduation starts at 8 p.m. in the school gymnasium.
This marked the second year in a row for the Senior Walk. Principal David Schill said he saw a video on Facebook last year of another school doing it and thought it would be a good thing for Crothersville to do.
“I contacted last year’s senior sponsors concerning the walk, and since one of them worked in the elementary school, it worked very well,” Schill said. “Evidently, several parents saw the same post because within days, I received several messages concerning doing it.”
Since it was such a success last year, Schill decided to continue it this year.
“I wanted to make it an annual part of the seniors’ last few days,” he said.
Before the walk, senior Katrina Christian said she experienced a variety of emotions.
“I think I was nervous because you walk through the hallways and all of these little kids are looking up to you,” she said. “Some of them just graduated kindergarten, so they are going to be here in 12 years. They are going to be us, so I’m sure they have seen us and they are like, ‘Oh my gosh! I can’t wait until I’m there.'”
Christian has worked with Ashley Spicer’s first-grade class, and they were excited to see her walking through the hallway in her cap and gown.
“When they saw me, they were like, ‘Katrina!’ They were trying to run out toward me and give me a hug, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, guys! I’m walking right now,'” she said. “It was cute.”
Senior Brittany Ross said she liked seeing the signs some of the elementary students made.
“It was cute to see the signs, cheering us on, being happy about our accomplishments, being proud of us,” Ross said. “I think it’s just this butterfly feeling inside because we’re setting standards for them and what they have to look forward to.”
Ross and fellow senior Deven Lemen both said they hope the Senior Walk was motivational for the young kids.
“There are some kids who are just like, ‘Yeah, I’m in school because my parents make me,’ but this is kind of like a boost of motivation for them to get where we are,” Ross said.
“I think it’s a really good motivational push for those kids, to be setting standards of ‘We should be doing great things just like they are going to do one day, as well,'” Lemen said.
Watching the Senior Walk was especially memorable for third-grader Baron Riley because one of the 33 graduates this year is his brother, Brady Riley.
“It was pretty cool. It was pretty awesome and inspiring to see it,” Baron said, adding that it encourages him to make good grades and try his best in school.
Baron’s classmate, Zoey Prince, said she liked making a sign to hold up for the graduates. Messages she included were “Way to go” and “You are like a bright star.”
“It was really inspiring,” she said of the Senior Walk. “It was just really cool and something to be proud of for our school.”
The walk allowed Zoey to see senior Breanna Barger, who inspired her to become a runner.
“I was offered to see if I wanted to run, and I started running and really, really liked it,” Zoey said. “It’s just something to be proud of to start running and just to be happy.”
Lemen said the Senior Walk was a special moment for the elementary teachers, too.
“I feel like it was definitely a good way for our past teachers to see where we are now and kind of be like, ‘Oh my gosh! I had those kids seven, eight years ago’ or ‘They are one of my first classes,’ which is a lot of how it was down there with us because they are getting new teachers,” he said.
Christian said some of the teachers shed a few tears seeing their former students now preparing to graduate.
“It’s kind of emotional because we don’t really get to go down to the elementary anymore because this has been really our life down there (in the junior-senior high school) for the past seven years,” she said.
“It has changed a lot down in the elementary, and when we were walking through, it was just kind of like, ‘I can’t believe I’m going through this again,'” she said. “It’s kind of emotional. I don’t think it will really hit us until graduation comes or whenever we get out and next year, kids are rolling into school and we’re not.”
Christian said she looks forward to seeing the elementary students participating in the Senior Walk someday.
“It has flown by from the class that graduated last year, so imagine how fast it’s going to fly for the next few years,” she said. “By the time we’re out of school and been out of college, these kids are going to be up here, and it’s just going to be so weird to me. They are all going to be grown up.”