Lincoln Elementary preschool teacher Amanda Schultz lined her students down the hallway from her classroom a little after 8 a.m. on Friday morning. Some of her students were curious about the tall kids dressed in yellow and blue gowns. Some thought maybe they had a special birthday.
“No, they’re graduating high school,” she told them. “This is their very last year that they come in to school. And they went to school here just like you guys do.”
Preschooler Raeley Ranalli looked at Schultz with surprise. “They did?”
“They did,” Schultz said, confirming with a smile.
Ranalli couldn’t believe it, and she eagerly waited for the tall seniors to walk their way. When yellow and blue-clad students started down the hall, she helped her classmates cheer them on. It’s moments like these that make the annual senior walks through the elementaries worth it — to show the younger children why they go to school and what the ultimate goal is.
The seniors walking the hallways at area schools has become a tradition. On Friday, seniors walked their elementary school hallways in Scottsbluff and Gering.
At Scottsbluff’s Lincoln Heights, 16 seniors walked the halls of their former elementary school, a nice start to graduation weekend.
Before the seniors arrive, Principal Kraig Weyrich said, teachers talk to the children about the grads having been former Lincoln Heights students.
“Hopefully, what we are doing is giving our kids some role models for them to continue working hard in education and see this is where you will get to,” he said. “I think it is good for the seniors to come back to their roots, they grew up in this neighborhood and it is exciting for them.”
Right before the seniors walked the halls, four seniors gathered early, remembering the teachers that they had when they were in classes at Lincoln Heights. Seniors Brooklyn Jenkins, Celest Montgomery, Devan Barnett and Kaden Wooden excitedly rattled off a list of names to teachers to secretary Jennifer Galindo, wanting to know if their teachers still worked at the school. They were excited to hear that some of their teachers would be returning to see them off during the walk.
“There will be some teachers who will have tears,” Weyrich said, which turned out to be true as some of the seniors stopped and gave hugs to familiar teachers they hadn’t seen in years.
Weyrich himself is also marking his final days in Scottsbluff schools, retiring this year. Like the seniors walking the halls on Friday, he admitted to a little bit of trepidation about his next steps.
“I keep having a last of this, and a last of this. I am getting nervous, if I’m honest with you,” he said.
Area schools graduating seniors this weekend include: