Niles High School graduates take part in third annual senior walk

NILES — Wednesday afternoon, more than 200 pre-school and kindergartners lined the hall at Northside Child Development Center to cheer on graduating high schoolers for the third annual Senior Walk.

High schoolers wore bright yellow and blue graduation robes and caps as they swept through the halls. They were greeted by Northside students clapping their hands and cheering. For their part, seniors slapped high fives with the students, much to the younger children’s delight.

The event leads up to Niles High School seniors’ graduation commencement, which takes place May 30. In addition to Northside, seniors also visited Ballard Elementary School, Eastside Connections, Howard-Ellis Elementary and Ring Lardner Middle School.

Northside principal Jennifer Shabazz said she believes the tradition can help to inspire younger students to want to graduate from high school.

“It’s a goal for them when they go through all of the buildings for all the kids to see what the future is and know ‘that’s going to be me one day,’” Brawley said. “For our kids that are 5, it’s really [the chance] to look up in awe and see the big kids come through the halls.”

For teachers at Northside, the three-year tradition is also sentimental.

“The teachers really like seeing the past kids that they had that started here,” Shabazz said. “Our motto is ‘Viking pride begins at Northside, so it’s really cute that it begins at Northside,’ and they come back through for one of their final walkthroughs.”

Niles High School principal Molly Brawley said seniors also get the chance to thank educators who have helped them along the way. Last year, students started passing out “Thank You” gold coins to educators and staff who inspired them. This year, seniors continued the tradition, and each got three coins to share with teachers in the lower grade levels.

“The teachers love seeing them and getting that special recognition is amazing,” Brawley said.

Both Brawley and Shabazz said the senior walk also serves as a source of encouragement for younger students and graduates alike.

“One of the seniors the other day said they felt like a movie star when they walked through the halls,” Shabazz said. “That’s always exciting.”

Next week, Brandywine High School will conduct their senior walk on Tuesday.

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