On Wednesday, a group of Hayes High School seniors took a trip down memory lane as they visited Woodward Elementary, caught up with their former teachers, and received a clap out by current students as they left the school.
Earlier this week, seniors across the district were invited back to their old elementary schools to catch up with their teachers one last time before graduation.
At Woodward Elementary, students ate lunch with their former teachers and looked over old photos together before being led on a parade through the school with representatives of the each of the grades at Woodward. Current Woodward students stood in the halls and cheered for the outgoing seniors.
Hayes senior Ava Johnson said visiting Woodward gave her a new perspective on the school.
“It’s weird seeing that everything is so small, especially the toilets,” Johnson joked. “It’s really nice to see all my past teachers and how excited they got to see me.”
Johnson said she’s excited to graduate and attend Ohio Wesleyan University in the fall.
“I’m going to go on and do something else,” she said. “I’m excited for the future.”
Johnson said she’s currently undecided but hopes to study architecture and interior design.
Fourth grade teacher Michele Brockett said it was “amazing” to have the students come back to the school.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to see our kids come back and tell us all about what they’ve been doing and their plans for the future,” Brockett said. “My students are known as the Brockett Bees. There are several (seniors) who were Brockett Bees, and my kids were very excited to see other Brockett Bees.”
Hayes Senior and former Brockett Bee Rachel White said it was “very surreal” to return to the school after so many years.
“This place feels a lot smaller now,” White said. “The drinking fountains are lower to the ground and things like that. It was definitely a trip down memory lane. When we took our school tour a bunch of memories were coming back to me. I remember little things. It’s really cool.”
White said she’s looking forward to graduating and plans to attend The Ohio State University to study theater.
“I’m very excited for graduation,” White said. “It feels like I’ve been in high school forever, so I’m excited for something new. I’m excited to see what college will bring and everything after.”
Fellow senior and former Brockett Bee Kristen Smith said she enjoyed seeing her classmates and teachers again.
“I think it’s really special getting to see all the teachers and kids we grew up with again,” Smith said. “I enjoyed having one more day with the kids I grew up with and seeing old pictures and seeing how much everything has changed. I’m really excited (to graduate). I think it’ll be good to have a change. Even though it’s bittersweet, I think it’ll be good to move on and grow.”
Smith said she plans to attend OSU Marion to study social work.
Brockett said she hoped the seniors felt beloved during their return to Woodward.
“Woodward is a family, and we care about our kids, no matter what age they are,” Brockett said. “It’s just such a joy for us as teachers to see students come back. It’s the reason why we do this.”
Gabrielle Anderson said it was “surreal” to visit the school just before graduation.
“I’m not ready for it to end,” Anderson said. “It felt great to know that all these kids are going to be in my position years from now. I felt loved.”
Anderson said she will attend Suffolk University in Boston to study computer science and business on a pre-law track.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.