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Northside students participate in Senior Walk

PINETOWN — One of the most important days in someone’s life is high school graduation. A student is right on the cusp of adulthood, leaving grade school behind.

To celebrate this milestone, Daphne Cullom, a science teacher at Northside High School, decided to organize a Senior Walk for the school’s 2016 graduating class last Thursday.

Participating seniors marched through the halls of Northeast Elementary and Bath Elementary schools, receiving an outpouring of support from the students and staff who gathered to watch.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done it, and it’s something we want to make a tradition for the class,” Cullom said.

Cullom won’t take credit for the idea, however, as she said a student told her of a similar event at a Texas school.

“I looked it up myself to see what it was about,” she said. “It’s one of those things where you reflect on where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.”

The Senior Walk was also a low-cost event to organize, and the biggest responsibility involved lining up the buses for transportation.

About 70 percent of Northside’s 98 seniors were able to participate Thursday, and although some were skeptical at first, Cullom said everyone seemed to enjoy the event.

After visiting the two elementary schools, the seniors visited Bonner’s Point, where they were able to relax, have refreshments and take pictures with friends. Cullom said she thought this was a good opportunity for the students to spend time together, as graduation is usually a family-centered event.

“They came away from that day making comments like, ‘I’m really glad I participated in this,’” Cullom said. “Those are the kinds of things you just can’t put a price tag on.”

She said the Senior Walk would not have been possible without community partnerships, especially from the feeder schools, and the staff at the elementary schools was thrilled to see some former students all grown up. Younger students were also excited to see the “big kids” in their graduation gowns.

“The younger students had the chance to see that we really value graduating from high school and the expectations are high. The seniors were like celebrities to the younger students,” Northside Principal Charles Clark said. “For the teachers at both Northeast and Bath, it was a chance for them to see how the ‘finished product’ looked.”

“It was just really neat,” Cullom said. “I’m very thankful that Mr. Clark was willing to do it. It was a team effort to do it.”