WENATCHEE — Mission View Elementary students lined up outside and inside the school Thursday, holding signs and excitedly waving as Wenatchee High School seniors passed by.
Among the kids were fourth-graders Aileen Arroyo, Dyana Martinez and Marianna Olayo.
“I want to graduate,” Dyana, 10, said. “I want to go to college really bad.”
Her brother and Aileen’s aunt are among the seniors set to graduate Friday.
“They get to study whatever they want, and they get to follow their dreams,” Aileen, 10, said.
Although Marianna, 11, doesn’t have a relative graduating from WHS this year, she was still excited to welcome the seniors.
“When you see them walk, you’re very proud of them and you wish you could hug them,” she said. “When they get a job, it’s good because they get money and they can buy stuff that they need. Like, they can buy a house.”
Mission View was one of 10 local elementary and middle schools included in Wenatchee’s third-annual Senior Walk. Associate Principal Ricardo Iniguez presented the idea in 2017 after seeing videos from other schools.
Eastmont High School had its own Senior Salute on Wednesday. Both schools will graduate their seniors on Friday: EHS at 6 p.m. at Town Toyota Center and WHS at 8 p.m. at the Apple Bowl.
Mission View Principal Jeff Jaeger said the WHS seniors included 90 former Mission View students — the largest alumni class to visit during the Senior Walk. His son, Trent, is also among the graduates.
“It’s a good thing for our kids to see, that the graduates are Mission View kiddos, and I think the (seniors) enjoy coming back and seeing their teachers,” Jaeger said.
Soon-to-be WHS grad Ianna Rosa, 17, is planning to study anthropology at Seattle Central College. She was happy to visit the elementary students.
“I love kids. They’re all excited and it’s cute,” she said. “It makes kids excited about going to high school, which is important because not everyone is.”
For senior Matthew Liek, 18, being so close to graduating is “surreal.” He’s got an apprenticeship with Greg’s Plumbing.
“I’ve been looking forward to this day forever, and I still can’t believe it’s happening,” he said.
Liek, who attended Lincoln Elementary, said the Senior Walk shows children “that it can happen for them no matter what trials or tribulations they go through.”
Gabe Cline is the WHS site director for Central Washington University’s GEAR UP program, which helps with the Senior Walk. He said many graduates marveled at how much smaller Mission View seemed compared to when they were students there.
“Looking back on the work that it’s taken to bring them to where they are today is good for them to see and, I think, will encourage them as they begin their college years,” he said. “I’m just super proud of these students for making it through to graduation day. There’s many times when they could have given up and they chose not to.”