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CHS grads return to elementary school

There’s a saying: “You can’t go home again.”

While it may often hold true, this wasn’t the case on Tuesday when a delegation of Claremont High School seniors, all Mountain View alums, stopped by the elementary school just two days before their graduation.

The Mountain View kids, seated in chairs lining the pathway in front of the school, held their hands out to give high and low fives to the eight Wolfpack members, who officially turned their tassels on Thursday evening.

The idea behind the visit was to provide inspiration for the younger students while allowing the seniors to acknowledge where it all started.

Fourth grade teacher Heather Stradley, who has taught for nearly 20 years at Mountain View, was particularly edified to see the returning students.

“I know every single one of the graduates walking through the halls,” Ms. Stradley said, noting that she had taught each of the students personally except for one. “That was such a great class that year.”

As the seniors strolled the halls of their old campus, they were greeted with cheers and presented with candy leis made by the Mustangs. A few children lifted wands and blew bubbles and, at one point, Mountain View staff led the youngsters in a festive wave.

Ten-year-old Navie Davila-Fernandez was impressed by the visit.

“It feels great because they went to our school. They’re doing something great. I want to be just like them,” she said.

Mountain View Principal Natalie Taylor said the idea for the ceremony came from the principal of CHS, Brett O’Connor. Science teacher Cheryl Fiello saw a YouTube video in which an elementary school invited former students to come back to their old stomping grounds just before their graduation.

She sent him the clip and he thought it was a wonderful idea. With the help of ASB, a district-wide event was organized, with groups of CHS seniors visiting every local elementary school campus.  

“It’s such a great testament to the Claremont community,” Ms. Taylor said. “It shows how attainable [graduation] is. I told my sixth graders, ‘Guys, this is you in six years!’”

It is certainly not senior Raven Wilbur’s first time returning to her school of origin. Her mother works there, so she says she is a regular Mountain View visitor. Still, the CHS student, who was crowned the high school’s homecoming queen earlier this year, said she knows this appearance was a special one.

“It’s important for us to see where we began, our roots, and what it all means,” she said. “And for the kids, it shows where they can go. It shows that there will be a finish line.” 

Raven, who has also served as a student representative to the CUSD school board, shared that she is heading for UC San Diego’s John Muir College, where she will major in human or molecular biology.

Graduating senior Jacen Doebler, who attended Mountain View from kindergarten through sixth grade, said it felt nostalgic returning to his old school. “I’m a lot taller, I think,” he said.  “The roof is much closer to my head.”

Jacen, who among other involvements played football at CHS, will be going to Oregon State University where he will study visual art.

Mr. O’Connor was in attendance and said he likes the way this newly-minted CHS tradition allows graduates to serve as role models.

“It is really important for our graduates to give back and for them to see the teachers who had such an impact on getting them where they are today,” he said. “It takes a village to graduate from high school, and all these people are part of that village.”

—Sarah Torribio

storribio@claremont-courier.com