Kit Carson Elementary School welcomed approximately 50 special guests this week as graduating seniors from Madison Central High School, dressed in their blue caps and gowns, walked through applause-filled halls.

Kit Carson Principal Ken Clark said, as the seniors took a victory lap around their elementary school, current students held handmade signs and cheered. After the senior walk was complete, the graduating students briefly met with their former teachers for a hug and a photo.

For senior Emma Riester, Monday's walk brought this week’s graduation into perspective.

“I never truly realized how close it was until I went back to the place where the whole journey started,” she said. “But I loved seeing all my old teachers and the little kids.”

There was much congratulations and excitement for each senior moving on to the next chapter of their life, especially from teachers who felt they had contributed to the student’s success, said Clark.

"(The walk) was uplifting," said senior Abby Thompson. "Seeing teachers so excited to see us and having them remember our names made me feel so special. It was like we never left."

While time was short, Kit Carson third-grade teacher Whitney Hamilton said she received many warm hugs from her former students.

“It was a very neat experience to see (students) who were third graders when I had them in class, walking toward me in grownup bodies,” said Hamilton, noting while she may have seen them over the years, seeing them back at Kit Carson with many accomplishments under their belt was different and touching.

Though elementary school marks just a short time in these students' lives, Clark said elementary teachers were often helping students achieve milestones.

From the time a child enters elementary school, their teachers are instructing them not only on academic principles, but life skills, such as how to read, tie their shoes, social skills and manners, Clark said. He said it is like raising another child.

Stacy Brockman, Gear Up Academic Specialist, said every Madison County elementary school participated in senior walks this year, along with 150-soon-to-be Madison Central graduates. Madison Southern High School also had students take part across the county, she said.

“The students are about to finish public education, and to walk back through their elementary schools where they where nurtured and where their love of education came from is significant,” explained Brockman. “Some of them don’t realize it at first, but they do when they go back.”

Clark said his elementary school has three expectations: to work hard, play fair and to take care of each other. If these principles were instilled in the graduating seniors during their time at Kit Carson, Clark said he feels the school did its job for the students and the community.

The elementary school principal said he also hoped the elementary students would be inspired by the event and use this memory as an inspiration to complete their K-12 education.

"Maybe one day they too will walk the same hall in victory," he said.

Reach Critley King at 624-6623; follow her on Twitter @critleyking.

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