For SHS seniors, elementary visits stir memories

One group of students enjoyed a blast from the past last week, all while another caught a glimpse of their future.
Shelton High School seniors, one week before receiving their official diplomas, donned cap and gown and walked the halls of their original elementary schools on Thursday, June 6, as their young counterparts cheered on with what seemed to be awe and envy.
“It is so heartwarming to come back to school where it all started,” said senior Anthony Russo while visiting classrooms and high-fiving youngsters at Mohegan School. “This is a chance to reflect on what happened, what made me the man I am today.”

Russo said the hallways are filled with good memories, from field day to glitter and gold.
“It is just great to connect with your past,” added Russo.
Senior Heather Garrett said it was “crazy, all the memories are coming back.
“This makes you realize how much time has gone by so fast,” said Garrett, another Mohegan alum. “We are so excited to see the kids, too. This is a great way. We are their role models. They look up to us. This shows them that they are going to be us one day.”
Senior Cristina Chirsky also enjoyed her return to the halls of Mohegan School.
“Ten years, wow,” said Chirsky, who had not been back to the school since her final day. “It is so much "smaller than I remember. This is spectacular, seeing all the younger kids. They were saying I am so tall. No one has ever said that about me.”
This is the first year that the Shelton public schools have held this special elementary school return visit for graduating seniors, and event coordinator Kathy Riddle said the event’s success only means incoming high school seniors can expect to participate at the end of the next school year.

“This was a great opportunity for the seniors to come full circle,” said Riddle, a high school guidance counselor who spent Thursday at Elizabeth Shelton School. “This is a great way for the seniors to reminisce about where it all started. The elementary school kids get to see what the seniors are doing and visually see what they are working toward. It was a beautiful, inspiring day.”
Riddle said the day was truly meant as a time for the graduating seniors to reflect on what they have accomplished.
“This was a paramount day for Mohegan School because Mohegan School is always known as the school with a heart,” said Mohegan School Principal Kristen Santilli. “To have these students come back to their original family at Mohegan School is priceless. We welcome them and are just so proud of them and their accomplishments.”
Santilli said the visit was an inspiration for her current students “to see what they can achieve and what they can accomplish in life. It was wonderful to see the preschoolers outside with signs, and students giving high fives. This is a nice bond and connection these kids will have forever.”
Booth Hill School Principal Dr. James Zavodjancik agreed, saying that the graduates were able to connect with their former school and teachers, while the present elementary school students received a glimpse into the future of what they, too, can do with hard work.
“This invaluable experience brought our high students back to their roots,” said Long Hill School Principal Andrea D’Aiuto. “The current students at Long Hill School were given a vision of what they are aspiring toward.”
Interim Shelton High School Principal Ken Saranich said that event not only supports the graduating seniors as they graduate but also ties the local community together as a K-12 system.
“This is the start of a new tradition in Shelton,” said school Superintendent Dr. Chris Clouet. “It brings joy to all involved — the big kids, the younger kids and the teachers make for a circle of hope and inspiration. I noticed more than a few tears as the soon-to-be grads reflected on their journey of education and personal growth. It was a proud moment in Shelton.”