Before moving forward, some Brea Olinda High seniors take one final trip back

Brea Olinda High School seniors visit with Country Hills Elementary School studentsSome members of Brea Olinda High School’s Class of 2017 took a quick detour on their way to walking at Wednesday’s commencement ceremony.

Dressed in bright green caps and gowns, about 30 graduating seniors who previously attended Country Hills Elementary returned to their primary-school stomping grounds to reminisce — and to give the next generation a sneak preview of their own futures.

Country Hills students cheered as the soon-to-be-graduates stepped out of a school bus and walked into the courtyard, some displaying medals, honor cords or both. Many of the younger kids held hand-drawn signs with encouraging phrases like “You did it,” “Congratulations” and “Welcome back.” The seniors, proving that you can go home again — or at least to the home of the Country Hills Cougars — grinned and dished out high-fives.

“Once a Cougar, always a Cougar,” Principal Trish Walsh said.

This year’s Senior Walk, a first for the district, was organized by Rob Stelmar, a co-lead counselor at Brea Olinda High who got the idea from a video on social media.

“It’s a great opportunity for seniors to reconnect with their roots, and to become positive role models for younger kids,” Stelmar said. “They get to see what it’s like at the end, what graduation really looks like, caps and gowns, and how excited people get about that.”

The Brea Olinda Unified School District, which was kind enough to share this story and the accompanying photo, says additional elementary schools will participate next year.