Senior swan song: One last walk down their elementary school halls

By on June 14, 2017

Marley Ketchum and Megan Zimmerman field questions from the Kissel Hill first graders while one of the students tries on Ketchum’s mortarboard.

Warwick High School seniors walked the halls of their alma mater last Thursday, a day before graduation.

But they weren’t reminiscing at the high school.

Dressed in their black caps and gowns, they were greeted at their elementary schools with cheers and waves from the younger children who now attend John Beck, John R. Bonfield, Kissel Hill, and Lititz Elementary schools.

It’s a new tradition — a senior walk down the halls of memories — that marked their passage from Warwick School District students to the next steps in their lives.

“That was me maybe 12 years ago. I spent half my childhood here,” said Bricen Standish, who attended Kissel Hill Elementary School starting in second grade. “It felt really good.”

After the walk, Standish and several other seniors gathered in their old music classroom. They agreed that music was always a favorite for them when they were younger. Several had been involved in band, orchestra and vocal music programs as high school students.

“Wow, they have ukuleles now,” said Kayla Garcia, who eventually joined the Warwick Marching Band as a member of the color guard.

Reflecting on simpler times with some of her best friends from elementary school, Garcia couldn’t stop smiling.

“I felt very welcomed here at Kissel Hill, when I was in second grade and today,” said Garcia.

Senior Meka Root was touched by the welcome and recalled her years at Kissel Hill from kindergarten to sixth grade, as did Morgan Firestone, who was looking forward to her own transition from high school student to college at Millersville University.

For Shohini Banerjee, one of the graduation speakers at the June 9 commencement, seeing the younger children lining the halls, waving, cheering and giving them high fives and fist bumps, was in a word, “adorable.”

In Erin Kirkpatrick’s classroom, seniors Marley Ketchum and Megan Zimmerman were welcomed by the first graders who were sitting in the same seats they once sat in.

The first graders had questions.

How do you graduate? Is it hard? What is high school like? How old are you? How does that hat stay on your head? Can I try it on?

“Of course,” said Ketchum as she helped a little boy place her mortarboard on his head. “You look great.”

For Assistant Superintendent Melanie Calender, the senior walk-through at Kissel Hill had special significance. She had been principal there when many of the seniors were students in the school.

“One of the things I keep hearing from the seniors is that the school seems smaller to them now,” said Calender, with a smile. “It just seems that way because they are all grown up.”

It was the same at John Beck, John R. Bonfield and Lititz Elementary schools, as seniors entered their alma maters to a K-6 welcome.

They shared memories of being on the safety patrol, making pottery sculptures, and competing in track and field day.

“It seemed like being in elementary school took forever,” said Standish. “Then suddenly we’re about to graduate.”

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the Record Express. She welcomes reader feedback and story tips at lknows21@gmail.com.

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