It’s an annual tradition for the seniors in the Central Valley School District to walk through the halls of the schools that raised them before they move on to the pomp and circumstance of graduation.
The soon-to-be graduates at Central Valley Academy walked through the elementary schools within the district on Monday morning, but it was the trek through Jarvis Middle School in Mohawk that was particularly significant.
Just five years ago, the seniors began as eighth graders at Jarvis, adjusting to middle school with a whole crop of new faces as the Mohawk and Ilion school districts merged.
The students are the product of a merger that many were worried about.
“Learning both schools, past traditions, creating new traditions,” said Shannon Buttacaroli, a guidance counselor at Jarvis Middle School.
"It was different,” said CVA valedictorian Kaylee Miller. “It was a little scary, but I mean, a lot of my friends now are from Ilion.”
"We're in a completely new environment,” said CVA senior Shivam Patel of the merger. “It’s a very unique experience and I'm very happy it happened.”
"It's to the point now where you don't even remember what kid came from Mohawk, what kid came from Ilion. They're just all CVA students,” said CVA principal Richard Keeler.
Entering college will provide the same challenge of adjusting to new school work surrounded by new faces.
"[It’s] kind of like a good inspiration for what I want to do,” said eighth grader Nicholas Shed. “Like it kind of just makes you want to push harder because you know that they were able to do it.”
But from the kids who have done it before, they’re showing the kids they were five years ago, the group of friends they are today.
"I think becoming a Thunder was a great thing because we all came in together, something new. We got so many more opportunities and I'm glad I'm graduating as a thunder."
The seniors from this year’s graduating class will be taking their Central Valley Academy memories to colleges across the country – Georgia Tech, Bowling Green and Syracuse University, just to name a few.