At a time when most high school seniors are focused on the future – and most younger students are immersed in grueling end-of-year exams – Rocky River High’s orange-robed seniors marched through their former middle and elementary schools.
“For a lot of little kids the graduation seems so far away,” explained senior Shanelle Tate. “They think, ‘Oh, I’m not going to graduate till 2030.’ Sometimes they lose their touch and their focus. Seeing us can give them the oomph they need to finish the year strong.”
The grade-school graduation march may turn into a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools tradition. Rocky River seniors have already marched through Northridge Middle School and two other feeder elementaries, Reedy Creek and Grier. On Wednesday, Clear Creek Elementary was their last stop before the real thing June 12.
Rocky River’s band and cheerleaders amped up excitement, while the younger children lined the halls with handmade signs. A second-grade class, for instance, strung a series of lettered flags spelling out “WAY TO GO / SOAR HIGH RAVENS.”
Earlier in the month, faculty at Crown Point Elementary in Matthews requested a similar visit from Butler High seniors. Twenty-six paraded through the school in silver caps and gowns, including 10 who had attended Crown Point.
“We want this to be an annual thing,” said Crown Point’s Dean of Students Rita Josiah.
Ericia Turner, who became Rocky River’s principal this year after nine years working in other districts, came up with her school’s march as part of her quest to build relationships with feeder schools and improve the public image of her Mint Hill school.
“Now kids are saying, ‘I want to go to Rocky River,’ ” Turner said.
Nancy Brightwell, the East Learning Community superintendent who oversees Rocky River and Butler, says she’s never seen this in CMS before but hopes it spreads.
“It’s just such a positive message for the younger students and a great opportunity for the seniors to give back,” Brightwell said.
After about 20 Rocky River seniors finished their Clear Creek walk and prepared to board the bus, a handful of children brought out drawings for each soon-to-be-graduate.
“This is so cute,” Tate said softly as she went to claim hers. “No tears. No tears. No tears.”