McALLEN — McAllen Memorial seniors Jose Luis Gomez and Zachary Moore donned shiny, light blue caps and gowns as they marched through the corridors of Leonelo H. Gonzalez Elementary School, where their education first began.
They were met with cheers and applause from school children as they walked alongside fellow top performing students.
The fourth annual McAllen ISD Senior Walk was held Wednesday morning, where teams of graduating seniors visited the district’s 19 elementary campuses. This is an initiative from the school district to inspire elementary students about high school life and to graduate with a high school diploma.
Valedictorian and salutatorian respectively, Gomez and Moore were a part of a team of about 40 graduating seniors who are among the top 10% of their class touring six different elementary schools. Cheerleaders and drum lines accompanied the soon-to-be graduates as they made their way across campuses.
McAllen Memorial, James “Nikki” Rowe and McAllen High schools each had their own team to visit all of the district’s elementary schools. The McAllen Memorial High School group’s first stop brought them to Gonzalez Elementary, where Gomez and Moore attended their early years in the K-12 system. Their final stop was at Escandon Elementary.
“It feels like it’s only been a blink of an eye, when we were just in their shoes, and to be an inspiration to them is amazing,” Moore said.
They will also continue similar paths in higher education.
Gomez will attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Moore will go to Harvard, both located in the same city.
According to a news release, through the “feeder pattern” elementary students were visited by the graduating classes from the high school the children may eventually attend.
For Gomez, relationships played a large role in his high school career.
“The experiences in my high school, the people I interacted with, all my friends all my family, I feel like they taught me a lot of life lessons that are going to serve in my adulthood,” Gomez said.
Moore came away more passionate about his interest during his time in high school, the salutatorian said.
Elementary students lined up along the corridors, laughing and shouting, while others waiting for the seniors to arrive. As the doors opened, they were greeted by the beat of drums, and an entourage of the top seniors accompanied by the head administrator as they walked through the school.
“We want our seniors to have an opportunity to come back to the elementary school and come back down memory lane… hopefully get a perspective on how fast time flies,” McAllen ISD Superintendent Jose Gonzalez said. “Then at the same time we want our elementary students to see our seniors… and that’ll give them a perspective on what their future holds.”
Gonzalez added that the senior walks have become a tradition in the district, like elsewhere, and that elementary teachers feel a “sense of pride” seeing their former students in graduation attire.
There were over 800 elementary students present for the march through the hallways, Gonzalez Elementary Principal Christina Hernandez said.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling, because I felt like we raised these children here,” Hernandez said. “They started out in kindergarten and now they’re graduating from high school and starting their lives… we’re really happy for them but at the same time, it’s kind of sad seeing them walk down the halls.”
Students from McAllen Memorial, James “Nikki” Rowe and McAllen High schools will graduate on June 1 at the McAllen Convention Center.