Northern Guilford High School seniors walked the halls of McNair Elementary wearing black and purple caps and gowns Wednesday morning.

Hundreds of children and their teachers lined up against the walls holding signs and cheering for the soon-to-be-graduates as they passed by. They exchanged high fives, hugs, and fist bumps. 

April Patton, an academically gifted teacher at the school, looked through her old yearbooks the day before and beamed in recognition of her former students making their way through the halls. 

“I've taught these seniors, whether it was fourth or fifth grade, or at church, or they’re friends of family," she said. "I know a lot of these kids, so to see them standing proud and walking, it's just amazing.”

It's been an annual tradition in Guilford County Schools for about six years for graduating seniors to walk through the halls of elementary schools to celebrate their achievements and inspire younger students. 

Enoch Chow, the counselor at McNair, said this tradition reinforces what the school teaches students throughout the year — to have faith in their future. 

“I think it's a huge testament to a lot of the kids here that, 'hey, you know what, like, I can do it,'" Chow said. "And I love that it was a very diverse group of scholars that came out to visit us, and I think that reflects McNair very well. And so it's like, 'we can see ourselves, you know, essentially walking those halls as well.'”

McNair Principal Brian McCain said this tradition means a lot to those graduating too. 

“On the flip side, our seniors get to come back, some of them went to school here. They got a chance to see some of their former teachers," McCain said. "And they also got a chance to see how they once were when they were here at the school, you know, little at the time, learning and growing. So they get a chance to see how far they’ve come.”

More than 5,000 Guilford County Schools seniors will be graduating in the coming weeks.

Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.

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