The Class of 2019 paraded through their respective elementary schools Friday afternoon — Holmes, Jeffers and St. Mary's — basking in hugs, hand-slaps and hand-painted signs.
“It was very nostalgic,” said Laine McGannon, who revisited Holmes Elementary School. “A lot of tears were shed. It's emotional because everything you know is changing.”
McGannon said even though Holmes has been remodeled since her days there, no structural changes could keep the memories from flooding in.
“It's like looking back at your life,” she said. “The whole bus ride here, we were all shooting memories back and forth.”
Holmes Principal Sandra Smits joked with the seniors as they walked off the school buses.
“You're back to elementary school,” she told them, while making hand motions, instructing them to line up. “I've got to believe you remember how to do this.”
The elementary students held up signs saying “congratulations,” “you did it” and “way to go.” They high-fived and cheered.
Jake Johnson said he walked through Holmes with his best friend, Joe Coprey. The two met in kindergarten.
They hugged after the parade.
“It was a little bit emotional and kind of sad,” Johnson said. “I don't want to grow up, but it was great to see the teachers.”
Coprey agreed about the flood of memories.
“Everything is just coming back to me,” he said.
The high school seniors weren't the only emotional ones. Some Holmes staff and parents who dropped in to observe the annual Graduate Walk wiped tears from their eyes during the event.
Holmes teacher Sharon VanderBroek hugged former students/seniors as they paraded by her current second-graders in the school’s hallway.
“I absolutely love this tradition because it's a way to honor the graduates, while also showing our current students the importance of graduating from high school,” she said. “I recognize many of my former students and I find that it's a very emotional time for me when they walk through the building. It always seems like 'just yesterday' that I had them in class.”
As the last senior exited the building, VanderBroek told her current second-graders: “This will be you some day.”