High school graduates in 2020 nationwide missed out on a lot of the traditional fanfare and celebrations, including the poignant “Senior Walk" that some districts host to allow seniors to visit their elementary and middle schools to reflect on their academic career since kindergarten.
After holding a drive-thru event last year, North Syracuse Central School District hosted an elementary walk-through earlier this month for its 2021 senior class, giving 603 graduates a chance to reconnect with former teachers.
Noah Wieczorek, a NSCSD senior, visited his former kindergarten teacher.
“I surprised her with flowers. She cried a little bit. This school is a lot smaller now… I’m 6’5,” Wieczorek joked.
Parents love the walk down memory lane, too. Anna LaFace is the mom of a graduate.
“It feels overwhelming, exciting and very emotional,” said LaFace.
“I can’t wait for it to be over. It was an amazing journey,” said Jameal Flagg, a Cicero-North Syracuse senior.
Dave Lunden, the NSCSD director of Instructional Leadership, says it brings the education loop full circle, and provides the district's youngest students with soemthing to look forward to.
“It’s this reciprocal piece gift that they give each other of, here’s where we started but here’s where you’re going to go someday, too; the value of it,” said Ludden.
“But you’ve changed so much. And this year is different," Ludden told the seniors. "It’s not just about coming to the school and reliving those memories. I can’t tell you, I really am going to get choked up, I can’t tell you how proud I am of your accomplishment this year under these conditions. This is different. This is different. You’ve been robbed of some things. You’ve persevered through some things.”
Graduates shared fun memories as well as poignant ones.
“When our friends here were in fourth grade the Harlem shake was it. And we spent half a day one day playing the music. They had costumes. They were on desks. It was thoroughly entertaining,” said Trisha Nelson, an Allen Road Elementary teacher. “As they moved on with life, they are all amazing. They always have been. So seeing that they’ve made it through this and they’re smiling on the other side it’s everything. It’s everything. And I know they can do everything.”
Cicero-North Syracuse High School graduates also will walk the stage this year on June 25 at Michael J. Bragman Stadium with four guests in attendance to accept their diplomas.