The hallways at Carolina Forest Elementary School were full of cheering and high-fives Tuesday as students just beginning their education congratulated seniors getting ready to head off to college or the workforce.
“I just wanted to say good job and they are going to do great,” said Carolina Forest first grader Myles Benitez, who held his hand-written sign with a message for the seniors: “You’re the Best.”
Myles and his classmates sat along the hallway anxiously waiting for the arrival of the Northside High School seniors, holding the signs they had made to show their support for the soon-to-be-graduates.
“We want them to know we’re glad they are going to college,” said fellow first-grader Hanaia Artis.
Do they want to graduate one day?
Myles and Hanaia both agreed, yes, with a smile and nod of their head.
First grade teacher Amy Yost said her students have been excited about seeing the seniors.
“It is an inspiration to them to think, ‘Hey, this is going to be me,’” Yost said.
After a brief wait, the cheering erupted as the Northside seniors arrived, each wearing their cap and gown and ready for their first Senior Walk.
The seniors paraded through the halls as Carolina Forest students high-fived, cheered and waved signs to congratulate the seniors on their upcoming graduation.
Kiara Bautista led the way for Northside’s Class of 2016 as class valedictorian.
She hopes the seniors have an impact on the younger students as well.
“This is the first year we’ve done this and we hope it encourages them to do well in school and graduate,” Kiara said. “For us, it motivates us to work harder for them.”
After leaving Carolina Forest Elementary, Northside High School seniors also walked the halls at Jacksonville Commons Elementary School.
Seniors at Dixon High School and Swansboro High School have also done a Senior Walk at the elementary schools in their district.
Swansboro Elementary School Assistant Principal Beth Wilsey said Swansboro’s seniors visited their school Friday as well as Queens Creek Elementary and Sand Ridge Elementary.
“It was absolutely wonderful. The kids were clapping and chanting ‘Let’s Go Pirates.’ It was like a pep rally for the seniors,” Wilsey said.
It also offered a little motivation for the younger students.
“It gives them something to shoot for and shows them, ‘You can do it,’” Wilsey said.
At Carolina Forest Elementary, first grader Elias Dangerfield watched a friend of his parade by as a senior and said his sister will graduate next year.
He was still holding his “Let’s Go NSHS” sign after the seniors had left.
“I saw them coming and got excited,” Elias said.