By Jill Penley
It is sweeping the nation and becoming an annual tradition in many school districts including Johnson County. In anticipation of graduation and donning caps and gowns, JCHS Class of 2018 students participated in the first-ever “senior walk” through all four of the district’s elementary schools during the week leading up to commencement services.
Roan Creek Elementary Assistant Principal, Jessie Laing, said this is a way to give the young students a chance to look forward to their future. “I just think it plants that seed for our students and what we’re trying to accomplish and how important education is and that there is an end goal in mind,” she said. “RCE students were so excited to see their friends and family members walking through the halls. Tears were definitely flowing from the adults and seniors as they completed their walk.”
The Senior Walk, which allows the graduating seniors to walk the halls of elementary, intermediate and middle school campuses with the students at all of the schools lining the hallways to cheer them on, has caught on in the past few years and has become both about celebrating accomplishments and motivating students to succeed. Kamryn Sluder is a part of the first ever JCHS senior walk and although the class was unable to visit Shady Valley Elementary, where she and fellow classmate, Hannah Greer, attended she thoroughly enjoyed the high school student’s walk in their caps and gowns.The event inspired younger students along the way.
“I want them to know, their dreams are attainable,” she said. “I also want them to know, yes, this is a long way to the finish, but it is worth it in the
Mountain City Elementary fifth-grader Tristin Bunting is among the many students who cheered and gave plenty of high fives to the guests of honor. He can’t wait to someday wear the cap and gown, “When I get older, I want to become an RN,” he said, “and when I am in their shoes, I will probably work hard.”
Senior Hayden Osborne was in awe as he walked through the same halls he did six years ago.
“I thought it was a really great experience for the younger kids,” he said, “because it gives them something to look forward to,” Osborne said while feeling a sense of motivation when seeing his older sister graduate from high school a few years back. “I can only imagine how it made the younger kids feel to see us back in our elementary schools in our caps and gowns.”
“I have wanted to have a Senior Walk for a couple of years, and this year I was going to make sure it happened,” said Lorie Plank, Johnson County Schools Head Start/Pre-K Supervisor, who along with Brittany Pleasant, one of the high school counselors, organized the event. “With a lot of help and early planning, the Senior Walk was a huge success for all involved.”
The heartwarming new ritual is hoped to remain a tradition in Johnson County and countless other institutions for years to come.