Seniors walk into new tradition

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After searching for the appropriate word to describe Kilgore’s first Senior Walk, Superintendent Cara Cooke landed on proud.

Thursday was the first Senior Walk in Kilgore, and the Kilgore High School seniors donned their red graduation gowns to walk through the hallways of the KISD elementary schools, high-fiving students all along the way.

One of the moments that stood out for Cooke during the new event was when the seniors their third grade pictures on the wall at Chandler Elementary School. With the names removed, the students were tasked with finding their class pictures. Many students pointed out their pictures and took pictures on their cell phones as they reminisced about their time at the school. Chandler administrators noted some students realized only then they shared a class with someone who had become their best friend.

“It was great to see students that I have taught and the teachers will agree. They have changed so much,” Chandler Principal Cindy Lindley said. “We loved seeing them excited about the pictures and the tours. I think this is a wonderful idea for seniors to see how far they have come. It was a great reflective activity… Many students and teachers were emotional.”

“When I was walking through those halls, the only thought that was kind of coming to me, especially at Chandler because we actually went there, was ‘Wow I used to be one of these kids,’” KHS salutatorian Aqsa Javed said.

The second moment that struck Cooke was when the elementary school students saw the seniors as they turned the corner to walk – and run – by the students’ outstretched hands.

“They came by and the kids went ‘Oh!’. That initial wow moment for them,” she said. “I was so proud of our high school students and the way they inspired those little ones today. I hope they really understand how much they inspired them. And then I couldn’t decide who was having more fun – the seniors or the little guys. It was so much fun to watch them.”

KHS Assistant Principal Charles Presley echoed Cooke’s dilemma.

“I don’t know that the students at the elementary campuses or the seniors enjoyed it most, but I think it was just a great opportunity for everyone involved,” he said. “For us to go back and share this great opportunity in the lives of our seniors here and to give the elementary students of Kilgore an idea of what they have to look forward to.”

The seniors, loaded onto five school buses, started their walk at Kilgore Primary School before moving to Chandler and then to Kilgore Intermediate School. Due to field day activities, though, the buses made a special stop at the R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium track on Harris Street to celebrate with the fourth graders.

Cooke, Presley and Lindley all said they hope Thursday’s visit – and the work that went into it – began a new tradition.

“Just a great opportunity for us to kind of share and give back and actually gain from it because it was very rewarding to see how appreciative those students were,” Presley said.

KHS valedictorian Shrina Patel thought about how the students she high-fived Thursday would be continuing the tradition once they become seniors.

“It was just weird to think that we might have kids and those kids will still be in school whenever we start having kids and are grown up,” she said. “It’s just weird to think about that.”

“I thought it was awesome… I look forward to being able to continue it in the future,” Presley said.

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