Senior Luminary Walk honored the class of 2022

16 May

Last May, when we were still hip-deep in the pandemic, the Webster Thomas PTSA, Webster Schroeder PTSA and Webster Teachers’ Association (WTA) came up with a creative, socially-distanced way to celebrate out graduating seniors: the Senior Luminary Walk.

In a year when special events had to be canceled one after the other, the PTSAs and WTA wanted to do SOMETHING to make sure our seniors felt special and celebrated for their achievements. The Luminary Walk was perfect; a stroll along the one-mile long Chiyoda Trail behind the Webster Recreation Center, which volunteers had lined with white luminary bags, each one inscribed with a senior’s name and school. 

Organizers expected it to be a one-time event, replaced this year with more traditional end-of-year activities and celebrations. But the families who came last year had other ideas. Shortly after the event had concluded, families started asking the PTSA if there were plans to do it in 2022 for the next graduating class.

So the Senior Luminary Walk returned this year, even bigger and better than before.

Like in 2021, students and family members were greeted by the Webster Schroeder and Thomas mascots as they began their walk along the Chiyoda Trail, which almost completely encircles the Recreation Center property on Chiyoda Drive. Volunteers had placed luminary bags along the entire length of the trail, 580 in all (330 for Webster Thomas seniors, and 350 for Schroeder, including GOAL students). Twinkling lights strung along the bushes here and there made the scene even more spectacular as the sun set.

Enthusiastic teachers were stationed all along the path, cheering and congratulating the students as they passed. One family after another would pause periodically for photos, and sometimes the parents’ proud smiles were even bigger than the students’.

As the students returned to the Rec Center at the end of the walk, each was handed a lawn sign to display at their home — prompting even more proud-parent photos.

Many thanks to the volunteers who worked for hours Sunday afternoon placing the bags along the path and stringing the twinkly lights, who manned the tables, or who were just there to cheer on the students.

I think it was a pretty special night for the volunteers as well. Cathy Falbo, and 8th grade teacher at Spry Middle School, helped to hand out lawn signs with her son. She said,

I think it’s a nice opportunity for families to celebrate their seniors, a nice way for the community to come together. I feel like these special moments are important to celebrate and recognize and I think it’s important to bring the community together.

I’ve seen these kids grow, known them since kindergarten. It’s really special to see them come by. I’ve had some of them as students. For me, this is a really special opportunity to recognize them, congratulate them and greet them again after many years.  

What was especially neat about the evening is how it was really and truly a One Webster event. Webster Thomas and Schroeder PTSAs worked hand-in-hand since last fall to plan it. Both mascots were there, and Webster Schroeder Principal Paul Benz, Webster Thomas Principal Glenn Widor and GOAL Director Rebecca Saiff were on hand, passing out the lawn signs.

“That’s the nice thing about Schroeder and Thomas doing it together,” Webster Schroeder PTSA vice-chair Stacie Peters said. “A lot of families really truly enjoy that because a lot of people are friends, whether they are a Warrior or a Titan.”

Judging from the number of cars filling the Rec Center parking lot and overflowing onto the shoulders and parking lot across the street, this year’s Luminary Walk was as well received as last year’s. Families started arriving well before the scheduled 7:30 start and for almost two hours, the trail and Rec Center property were swarmed by thousands of happy students, parents, grandparents and friends.

I suspect that the Senior Luminary Walk will be back again next year.

Click here for a gallery of photos from the evening.

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(posted 5/16/2022)

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