- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2016

ELKVIEW, W.Va. (AP) - Pinch Elementary students were given role models to look up to when about 20 Herbert Hoover High School seniors walked through their school dressed in graduation attire.

Pinch students gathered in the halls May 13 to greet the graduating seniors, many of whom had attended the same elementary school, with high fives, fist bumps and shouts of congratulations. All the while, teachers were encouraging the students to interact with the soon-to-be graduates, as Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” played in the background.

After they exited the school, the graduating seniors stood on the playground while Pinch students shouted their “Bulldog Pride” cheer. The younger students then gathered around the seniors as faculty and parents snapped photos.

Although it was put together in just a few days, Pinch Elementary Principal Betty Moore and Herbert Hoover Principal Mike Kelley were delighted with the event and said they hope to make it an annual tradition.

Moore said the goal was for the graduating seniors to impress their accomplishments upon the young children, give them a chance to see where they would one day be and let the seniors take one last look at where they started out.

“This was a wonderful celebration and a great inspiration for our children,” she said.

Kelley said many Hoover graduating seniors weren’t able to attend because of other obligations, such as track meets and archery tournaments, but that he’d eventually like to see all Hoover seniors walk down the halls of Pinch Elementary.

“We just started talking about this on (May 9), so we’ve kind of thrown it together pretty quickly,” Kelley said. “We plan on doing this every year, I think, and we love our partnership with Pinch Elementary, and all our feeder schools.”

Senior River Lucas, who attended Pinch, said returning to his elementary school was a trip down memory lane.

“It felt really nostalgic,” Lucas said. “It let me go back to my roots, and I feel it was a good experience.”

Kaitlin Mullins, who also attended Pinch, said walking down the halls of her old school was “crazy.”

“Seeing all of the little kids, and knowing that I was there and that now I’m graduating,” Mullins said.

Pinch kindergartners Carolynn Reed and Macie Smith talked about what they think it means to graduate.

“It means that you can get a job,” Macie said.

Carolynn said she was happy for the seniors entering new chapters of their lives.

“Good for them,” Carolynn said. “They’re graduating, and it must be really exciting.”

Inspiring young kids like Carolynn and Macie and giving them something to look forward to was the purpose of the event, Kelley said.

“We feel like it’s nice for our kids to get recognition,” he said, “but it’s also nice for these kids, even though they’re just in elementary school right now, to be looking forward to graduating from high school.”

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.

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