2018 Vandegrift “senior walks” inspire young students

Vandegrift senior walk at Grandview Hills Elementary.

By CAITLIN MCKEAND, Vandegrift Voice

Vandegrift graduation took place Friday night with approximately 550 seniors at the H-E-B Center. Prior to commencement ceremonies, many members of the class of 2018 participated in “senior walks”, where they walked through the halls of the local elementary and middle schools they attended.

“I think it’s really for closure and also I’m always amazed how excited everyone is to see where the students are going,” VHS college and career transition coordinator Sarah Spradling said. “I think the seniors have been working so hard and from my perspective, the celebration is so fast at the end. So I think we need to draw out that celebration so it will be really nice and fulfilling for students.”

There are now VHS graduates who have attended all of the local elementary schools — Grandview, Laura W. Bush, River Place, River Ridge and Steiner Ranch.

The seniors who participated in the walks donned their cap and gown and walked the halls of their former schools in parade fashion. Teachers, younger students and family lined the halls to give high fives, wave and cheer on the graduating seniors.

Spradling hoped that the events brought out a sense of pride for the seniors. She thinks too that they are “paying it forward for the younger generations” and it can also feed that sense of community.

“People have younger siblings, neighbors and kids that they babysat. I think those ties to your community are really important,” Spradling said.

“For those teachers to have seen twelve years into the future what you guys have accomplished and what direction you’re going with your life is really amazing,” Spradling said. “Because as educators, we don’t do this for the pay, we do this for the sense of reward that we are helping people develop into successful young adults.”

Kandice Detlefsen compared the senior walks to a similar tradition held at A&M called the Elephant Walk.

“I think the senior walk is a tradition for seniors to return to their roots,” Detlefsen said. “It allows students to take a walk down memory lane, walk the hallways and say ‘goodbye’ to the past that brought them to this point. On the flip side to that it’s a great thing for the younger students to see that there is an end in sight and to see the seniors dressed up in their cap and gown.”

Detlefsen said that seniors have put a lot of work into their futures and some are just ready to walk and move on. “But I think it’s important to acknowledge your past and to go back and see all the great things that lead up to this big day of importance. It’s really just a huge ‘thank you’ and validation.”

Natalie Root, who was to attend June 7th Four Points Middle School senior walk, said “It’s nice that seniors can just have the time to reminisce before they leave.”

“I think it’s important to go back and see how the school has changed and to remind myself how much I’ve also changed over time,” Root said. “It think the idea is awesome because it allows younger students to think bigger and know that their own graduation is not that far away. It think it will help them grow and push their limits.”

Spradling agrees and adds, “I think one thing seniors don’t realize is that we want to know how you all end up in this world.”

Photos by:
Kristin Crawford, Lynette Askari.