A blast from the past: seniors return to their elementary schools for ‘grad walk’

SAHS graduate Noel Aguiar cropped

High schools throughout the county are helping remind elementary school teachers of their positive impact on students while honoring graduates at the same time. 

Noel Aguiar, a senior at Santa Ana High School, recently returned to Carver Elementary School to surprise his former teacher, Mr. Kevin Gallagher. Aguiar arrived in full cap and gown, a testament to his success in large part due to his favorite elementary teacher. 

“Mr. Gallagher was one of the biggest parts of my childhood,” Aguiar fondly remembered in a video posted on Carver Elementary’s social media. “He was really important.”

Gallagher keeps photos of his classes throughout the years and pointed out a young Aguiar from the 2014-2015 school year. After reminiscing for a bit, the two embraced in a heartwarming gesture. 

SAHS graduate visits teacher at Carver

“I have to say the most satisfying, rewarding thing anyone can ever do is come back and see their [elementary] teacher when they’re in high school, when they’re big,” Gallagher explained in another video on Carver’s social media. “So for a kid to remember third grade when they already are graduating high school, it means even more.”

For Gallagher, the visit served as evidence of the formative effect he has on his students everyday. The visit was equally as meaningful for Gallager’s current third grade class, as they gathered around Aguiar and his picture, eager to compare. 

Other schools across the county are hosting similar events called grad walks where seniors visit their former elementary schools. Students get a chance to walk throughout campus among staff and current elementary students in celebration of the graduates’ accomplishments.

It also gives seniors the chance to impart some advice to the younger students, just like Aguiar did in another video on Carver’s social media.

“Keep going, and one day you’ll be in the same spot as me,” he said. “Hopefully you can come back and be in this spot … seeing your old teachers and coming back to say hi and seeing all those little kids, bringing back memories of when you were a little kid.”