LACONIA — Children lining the halls at Pleasant Street School on Thursday clapped, waved signs and gave high-fives to their heroes.
The tribute was similar to what an NBA team might receive when taking the court, but in this case the recipients were graduating Laconia High School seniors in cap and gown.
This is the second year for a “senior walk,” in which soon-to-be graduates go to Laconia’s middle school and three elementary schools to show younger students what is possible if they study hard and stay in school.
The moment was bittersweet for some seniors.
Wearing a red gown with a gold honor society sash, Cole Reid said this was his first time back at Pleasant Street School since he attended here.
“It’s weird, everything seems mad small,” he said. “It’s crazy. I’m kind of sad.”
He’s also excited about his future, which will start with a post-graduate year at Bridgton Academy in Maine.
Reid held a note given to him from one of the children:
“Congratulations on almost graduating high school. Good luck. Have a great year.”
Principal David Levesque gave each of the seniors who attended Pleasant Street a red pride pin.
“Our kids get a lot out of it, “ he said. “Our teachers are excited too.
“For us, we’re glad to see the kids who have gone on to be successful and then it’s also important for the younger kids who say, ‘This is what I can do.’ It’s a stay the course kind of thing.
“We follow our kids pretty close. Five of the top 10 students this year are from Pleasant Street School. So we take pride in them.”
First-grade teacher Carmelle Ryan said her former students often will recognize her before she recognizes them. She has changed a little over the intervening years but they have changed a lot, growing from tiny children to full-grown young men and women.
“I’ve been so excited all day,” said Ryan, who used to teach kindergarten. “It’s just amazing.
“A lot of the kids I had for kindergarten were in the top 10 for Laconia High School. That’s what I say, ‘I got them on the right foot.’”
Superintendent Brendan Minnihan said he sees the senior walk as one of many things the district does to build connections between students, teachers and the community.
“We see it as exciting for the kids and showing them this is your ultimate end goal in the system,” he said. “Keep working in the system and this is what you get.”