Seniors set to graduate from Medford School District high schools this weekend left younger pupils with an inspirational message Friday: "Keep working hard, and this will be you someday."
Clad in their caps and gowns, 200-plus students from North, South and Central high schools visited middle and elementary students across the district. The trip down memory lane was meant to illustrate the final chapter of their K-12 journey, and to encourage those in the midst of their public education to stay the course.
"We're visiting all the younger kids to be like, 'Hey, this is going to be you in about five or six years,' " says South Medford graduate Alexandria Kruger.
"It's very inspirational to them, so that they think, 'Oh, we could graduate, too!' " North Medford graduate Sara Charles adds.
It's the program's first year, according to district spokeswoman Natalie Hurd. The idea came from district Title 1 specialist September Flock, who attended a conference about boosting K-12 graduation rates.
"One of the things to come out of it was how symbolic events like this can have a huge impact," Hurd says. "Everybody (in the district) ran with it."
Participating seniors traveled to the middle and elementary schools in buses. At Hedrick Middle School, a group of graduates strolled through the hallways, greeted by a gauntlet of students and teachers who cheered, clapped and offered up a gratuitous number of high fives.
"It was amazing," Hurd says. "It was so heartwarming to see the seniors being greeted by the teachers they had in elementary schools who remembered their names."
It's a way to close the book on their K-12 career, then pass it on to someone else, complete with a little advice.
"Homework does matter," Kruger says, smiling.
"Graduate," Charles says, pumping her fist. "You got this."
— Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.