by Lisa Tome
There is no better role model for a first grader than a high school senior.
And for seniors, it was a dress rehearsal with many of them donning their caps and gowns for the first time.
That was just part of the thinking behind Cecilton Elementary's first ever senior walk held last Thursday.
The event, which had Bo Manor High School members of the Class of 2017 donning their graduation robes and walking the halls of what was the former elementary school for some of them. Others who participated in the senior walk attended Holly Hall and Chesapeake City elementary schools.
"We borrowed the idea (other local schools already host it). Kids need to see that they need to work hard, set goals. This gives them something to aspire to do. It's a great motivator," said Cecilton Elementary School principal Meghan Pugh. Assistant principal Haley Watson said that in turn, the members of the Class of 2017 need to feel appreciated for their accomplishment.
And feel appreciated they did. Some were even moved to tears.
In addition to having the seniors walk the Cecilton halls which were lined with students and staff who were waving "congratulations" signs, a number of special presentations were held to honor the Class of 2017.
Cecilton teacher Lissy Haney, is a Bo Manor alumni. She also serves as a coach at that school. Haney worked with other teachers for weeks coordinating a slide show featuring the now seniors as elementary students. Longtime Cecilton staffers also shared their memories of the time that they spent with students. "I begged them (Cecilton staff) to do it. Then it turned into a production," said Haney. "I graduated in 2002, 15 years ago. I'm so proud. This community is so small and tight. It's neat to watch them become adults."
Justine Borneman is a member of the Class of 2017. She was emotional during the event. "Coming back here is a chapter ending and a new one beginning," said Borneman.
Cecilton teacher Michelle Stopper was emotional as she took to the podium. Many of the seniors were taught by Stopper. "You're the leaders. These kids will follow in your footsteps...It is very important for us to see you and remember. Everyone here supports you, loves you and we're proud of you," said Stopper.
Sarah Matthews teaches second grade. The members of the Class of 2017 were her first students. "I feel a bond with you. You guys helped me grow and learn as I helped you grow and learn," said Matthews. "I can't tell you how proud I am. I am the teacher I am today because of you guys."
The principal had a personal moment. She was assistant principal at Chesapeake City Elementary when some of the seniors attended school there. A longtime family friend Brian Bell is among the soon to be graduates. She read a letter she got from Bell back then.
Senior Megan Dunn spoke on behalf of her classmates to the children. "My mother is a teacher. The habits you create now are going to stay with you the rest of your life. Thirteen years goes by quick. Join a club, a sports team, get involved any way you can...You're only going to be in high school once, make it count," said Dunn.
Stacey Rand told the students, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars," Rand, a senior said.