It’s never too late to start a new tradition.
Park View High School and Sterling Elementary School, both more than 40 years old, launched one just this week when the high school’s 237 graduating seniors, dawning royal blue gaps and gowns, stopped by the elementary school to be greeted by a wave of cheers.
“I feel famous,” one high school senior said as he walked through a crowd of young students, holding hand-made signs scribbled with congratulatory messages.
“Way to go, seniors,” one little boy yelled.
For many of the seniors, the farewell event had them returning to the building where they first started their school career.
Sterling Elementary alumnus José Coreas offered hugs to some of his former teachers, and high-fives to dozens of students in the hallways he once walked daily. “This is pretty great,” he said.
After the school year wraps up, the 18-year-old plans to pursue a degree from George Washington University and work in cybersecurity, a path he never would have imagined he’d be on when he was 10 years old. “What I’d tell these kids is keep doing well in school and it will pay off.”
Park View senior Adriana Guillen said returning to Sterling Elementary was “like coming full circle.” She also left a few words of advice to the kindergarten through fifth grade students.
“It sounds cheesy, but seriously, follow your dreams,” she said. “Do what you are passionate about, even if it’s just being a janitor. Because if you’re passionate about it, you’ll be the best janitor ever.”
From here, she’s headed to the School of the Arts Institute in Chicago to study film and audio production.
The idea for some of Sterling’s youngest students to send off its graduating seniors came from a Sterling Elementary first-grade teacher. She suggested it to Principal Jennifer Meres, who set the event into motion.
“I want our elementary kids to know this is going to be them one day,” Meres said. “It’s good for them to see that they can do anything they set their minds to and graduation is the first step to that.”
For the high school students, Wednesday’s visit, on one of their last days of high school, marked an important milestone.
“They hear adults say ‘stay in school, study hard, go to college.’ But to see these elementary students who look up to them, that really illustrates how important it is,” Park View Principal Kirk Dolson said. “I don’t think there’s a better way to sear that message in their brains. This brought it all together for them.”
Park View High School’s commencement ceremony June 12 at George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena kicks off Loudoun County’s stretch of 14 end-of-year ceremonies, offering a formal farewell to 5,076 graduating seniors throughout the county. See the full schedule here.