Students in Bryan started a new tradition Tuesday as the high school seniors strolled through their childhood, greeting former teachers and current students at the district’s 13 elementary schools.

Students from four high schools — Bryan High School, Rudder High School, MC Harris and Bryan Collegiate High School — were invited to travel to an elementary school in their caps and gowns to see the teachers and inspire the students.

“My hope for it is that our kids will see that’s going to be me one day; I can do this,” Bowen Elementary art teacher Teri Clark said. She especially wants her current students to see her embrace the returning seniors. “… What I hope that they see is that as I high-five those kids and we embrace those kids that I stay connected with you. I will always be here for you. I will always be there. I will always be someone you can come back to to have conversation with or talk to. I hope that what they see is that no matter where they’re at that they can always come back, that we’re always there for them.”

“It feels so amazing because I remember these days, just walking in here early mornings, 7:30,” Rudder High School senior Lakeeta Jones said walking into Bowen. “It just feels so great to be back and to see everything is still the same and some teachers are still here, too.”

Even though former Bowen Bobcat Mia Castillo, a senior at Bryan Collegiate High School, has been working as a volunteer at her old elementary school, she called it surreal to be back in her cap and gown Tuesday, just a few days before she walks across the stage of Texas A&M’s Rudder Auditorium at the BCHS graduation.

The event, she said, shows how much of an impact the seniors’ elementary school years and teachers had on them.

At Bowen, the students were met with three large posters of their fifth-grade homerooms from the yearbook.

Sharon McGregor, though not at Bowen anymore, returned to see her former students and took a picture with those who were in her fifth grade class.

“It was so great to see them all grown up and just to hear where they’re going to college,” she said. “It was just so good. I don’t even know what to say. It makes me want to cry.”

The best thing, Clark said, is to see the seniors and know they have been successful and are graduating to enter the world.

“I hope that they are as excited to see us and to be in their old place as we are to see them,” she said.

For the current students, McGregor said, it gives them someone to look up to and to get excited about getting to the point where they get to wear the garb.

Jones said she hopes seeing the seniors in their caps and gowns inspires the students to know they can do it.

“You can get to the finish line, as long as you try your best and your hardest and study and work hard, you can get to this place too and start your future,” she said.

Tuesday’s senior walk event was the first of its kind in Bryan, but Superintendent Christie Whitbeck said during Monday’s board meeting she hopes it becomes a new annual tradition.

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