SHREWSBURY – Members of the Shrewsbury High School class of 2023 never forgot where they started.
In the days before and after the school’s graduation ceremony, several graduates returned to their old stomping grounds, visiting the preschools and elementary schools they attended as young children.
Parker Road Preschool
Parker Road Preschool was the first Senior Walk event. Dressed in their navy blue mortarboard caps and gowns, the graduates filed into the lobby, and they were greeted by school staff and district administrators.
“We don’t always know if we’re making an impact on our kids when they’re that little,” said Patricia Quinn, an organizer of the event and a speech language pathologist at Parker Road for over 23 years. “Just to hear them come up with memories is so special.”
The graduates walked to the classrooms and high-fived the cheering students lining the halls. Once in the classrooms, students shared their favorite memories at Parker Road, taking questions from the eager 3- to 4-year-old students. After the Q&A had finished, some preschoolers told knock-knock jokes to the graduates.
As the students headed out to the playground, some seniors had the chance to reunite with their old teachers.
“[The teachers are] all really overcome with emotion; they get really emotional when they even see the list of kids that are coming. They start saying ‘I remember when he did this, and I remember her!’ … It’s just a cool feeling to have them come back and have them remember things,” Quinn said.
Quinn also described how the Senior Walk isn’t merely sentimental; the event can inspire the current preschoolers.
“When you’re that little, it really makes a huge impact to even have [the graduates] in front of you. It’s a time for them to learn about why they’re dressed like that, what they’re going to be doing, and why they’re here. I personally love to have the kids see that ‘Wow, I’m going to this someday – I can be this, I can achieve, I can get my goal.’ It’s to have students to look up to,” she said.
Later that day, Little Colonials alumni returned to their old classroom. As the graduates filed into the room, current preschoolers waved blue-and-gold pom-poms. Parents of the graduates were also invited to watch the event.
Sarah Monica, the Little Colonials’ teacher and recent semifinalist for the 2024 Massachusetts teacher of the year award, introduced the class of 2023 to the class of 2037. At the event, graduates, preschoolers, and parents played “Guess the Graduate.” Monica put a picture of one of the graduates on screen, and the audience was responsible for determining which person it was.
Once the person was revealed, Monica revealed yet another picture of the graduates’ preschool selves playing with the same toys the current students now enjoy.
“I do that too!” one preschool student yelled. “Yes, yes you do!” said Monica. The audience laughed.
After the event, the preschoolers headed for snack break, and the graduates gathered outside for a group picture. After the picture, the graduates shared a group hug.
Walter J. Paton Elementary School
On June 8, students from five grade levels – from kindergarten through fourth grade – had the opportunity to meet the graduates. Students formed one large circle around the blacktop and high-fived the graduates as they passed by. Several students held colorfully decorated signs congratulating the class of 2023.
After the greeting, students joined the graduates in the center of the circle for an impromptu dance party, complete with the 2010s-era music the seniors enjoyed while at Paton. Everyone – students, teachers, and graduates alike – joined in one massive conga line midway through the dancing.
Students and graduates also found time to connect on the playground, playing tag, wallball and other games.