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Grand Tour: Soon-to-be Turners Falls grads participate in walkthrough

  • Turners Falls High School seniors donned their caps and gowns and walked through  Sheffield Elementary School fostering school spirit in the younger students. They also toured Great Falls Middle School, Hillcrest, Erving and Gill Elementary Schools, with senior students pausing often to greet their former teachers. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Turners Falls High School seniors donned their caps and gowns and walked through Sheffield Elementary School fostering school spirit in the younger students. They also toured Great Falls Middle School, Hillcrest, Erving and Gill Elementary Schools, pausing often to greet their former teachers Wednesday. Six schools will hold graduation ceremonies tonight. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz



Recorder Staff
Thursday, May 31, 2018

TURNERS FALLS — Dressed in blue and white graduation garb, seniors from Turners Falls High School completed a whirlwind tour of each of the district’s schools that many of them attended as small children years ago.

The 55 graduates were accompanied by Principal Annie Leonard and Guidance Administrative Assistant Katie Thiem as younger students and teachers lined the hallways to applaud the soon-to-be grads.

As the smiling teens walked through the front doors of Sheffield Elementary, a faculty member saw her senior son and planted a kiss on his cheek as he walked by.

“This gives kids a chance to reconnect with teachers, see their siblings, cousins…,” Leonard said. “It’s a really beautiful reconnection.”

Leonard says this tradition began three years ago after the district was inspired by a Texas school having its seniors walk through the local elementary school.

“But for us, as a regional district, there is an added element of our seniors traveling to three schools in Montague, one in Gill, and one in Erving to greet students and staff who helped them along the way,” Leonard said.

Seniors Hannah Graves and Lexii Wickline had a bittersweet moment walking through Hillcrest Elementary, the school they attended years ago as small children. During the walkthrough, they passed by a painted mural that they had worked on over a decade ago.

“We had it on the floor of the auditorium,” Graves remembered.

The two believed they worked on the mural either as first or second graders and remembered painting the animals in the scene.

“A nice conversation I was part of on the bus was between two students talking about the positive influence of their elementary school teachers on their plans for working with children in the future,” Leonard said.

Some of the students have plans to work as elementary school teachers or pediatric medical assistants, for example.

Seniors started at Great Falls Middle, a school in which many graduates had attended less than five years ago. Next, they toured the local elementary schools: Hillcrest and Sheffield. Afterwards, they took a bus to Gill and Erving elementary schools and returned to the high school shortly before noon.

“Some of the best moments are when younger siblings meet up with their graduating (siblings), or when seniors meet up with former teachers,” Leonard added. “It’s a really special morning, where we acknowledge that high school graduation is more than just four years at TFHS but a 13-year journey.”

Reach Christie Wisniewski at: 413-772-0261, ext. 280 or

cwisniewski@recorder.com