“It is a neat way for the seniors to come back and remember their elementary days, but it is also neat for elementary teachers to see the end product,” said Emily Elliott, E.L. Ross school counselor. “To see where the students have grown and how they are ending their journey and starting a new one.
“It is a special way to wrap it up for the seniors and for us.”
Senior parades began with the graduating class of 2012. Rachel Moore, CHS graduation coach, attended a graduation-focused conference where she heard about the idea.
“The speaker encouraged school systems to get students excited about graduation [through parades],” Moore said. “I thought it was something we would enjoy. We tried it. It turned out to be a success.”
Seniors are separated by the elementary schools they attended in the city school system. A day is then chosen where students put on their caps and gowns to walk through their former elementary school halls. Students currently enrolled at the schools line the hallways to cheer, receive pencils and score a coveted high-five.
Children at E.L. Ross excitedly waited for the seniors to make their way toward their class. As the parade came closer voices grew louder.
One student repeatedly told seniors, “I want to be like you when I grow up.”
An especially tall senior inspired the young boy to change his words to, “I want to be as tall as you when I grow up.”
Martin Ringstaff, Cleveland City Schools director, was on hand for the festivities.
“This is the achievable moment [for grade school students]. This is what they should shoot for,” Ringstaff said. “These [seniors] are at the end of their 12th year and back in the elementary schools they went to.”
Ringstaff said, “It’s like, here is the end result. Here is the great celebration of why we do what we do. And these kids get to see it.”
Co-coordinator of the event, Melissa Barnett, said the parade serves a dual purpose.
“We are encouraging the kids to do a good job on their TCAPs, but at the same time, they are congratulating the seniors,” Barnett said.
“We have seen teachers cry ... Seniors start talking about memories on the way over here. It is one of the neatest things I have seen.”
Representatives of the class of 2013 started off E.L. Ross’ pep rally with words of encouragement and cheers.
Seniors Molly McConnell, Trevor O’Neil and Taylor Bennett each took a turn at the microphone.
Students appeared to enjoy learning the CHS roller coaster cheer. The seniors showed the young students how to make it look like they were taking the famous ride’s twists and turns.
Third through fifth-graders eagerly jumped on board for the ride.
Students young and old were all smiles following the event.
“It was great just relating to them and knowing everything they are going to go through,” said senior Beka Day.
She encouraged students to do their best, but to remember grades are not everything.
“Have fun and take difficult classes that are fun. Grades aren’t everything,” Day said. “Be yourself and don’t conform to everything.”
Day left an additional piece of advice for students in need of encouragement between now and graduation.
“I would just go online and be inspired by others who are making a change in the world through their education and who know who they are,” Day said.