Completing the circle: North seniors visit their old elementary school

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 19, 2016

By Rebecca Rider

SPENCER — Seniors from North Rowan High School were greeted by cheers Tuesday as they walk through the doors of what, for many of them, is their former elementary school.

As members of the high school band cranked up a marching tune, the seniors – decked in their green and white graduation regalia– toured the halls, handing out high fives to the young students who lined the way.

“Stay in school,” one senior called to a group of elementary schoolers, who waved handmade posters that read, “Congratulations Graduates!”

For both schools, it’s another link in the chain that binds them together.

North Rowan Elementary School Principal Katherine Bryant said that the elementary, middle and high school are “a family,” and have been steadily working on programs to build relationships between the schools.

Students from North Rowan High visit the elementary school regularly to read to students as part of a “book buddies” program, and Bryant said that this is another way for young students to make a connection between where they are and where they’re going.

“This is the first step of many adventures you are about to take,” Bryant told the seniors as they waited to enter the building. Dr. Judy Goins, literacy consultant for kindergarten through third grade for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, led the march, and younger students handed out poems they’d written to seniors.

Bryant told the soon-to-be graduates to “hold your head high” as they walked through their old school.

“We are North, we are strong, we are together,” she said.

The approximately 30 seniors are those who enrolled in English courses this semester. Bryant said the schools began planning the parade in February, as a way to close the loop between elementary and high school education and get her students thinking about their futures.

“We are doing this first and foremost to support our seniors but also to show our students that there is something to strive for,” Joy Childers, North Rowan Elementary reading design coach, said.

Inside, the noise from the cheering younger students and the loud beat of the band was deafening. For many of the seniors, this was where they started their education.

Trey Stoner said the walk brought back memories, and he loved having the chance to inspire the younger students.

“It’s just a great feeling to have,” he said.

For Mary Ann Roberson, a third-grade teacher at North Rowan Elementary, seeing her former students was a joyful experience and helped her visualize the paths her current students might take.

“It sends chills down my spine, I’m so proud of where they’re going,” she said of the seniors.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.