Graduating Seniors Return to Their Kindergarten Classrooms

Reminiscing about the past isn’t just a way to pass the time; it’s an important way to understand its connection to your present.

When I decided to undertake Reschool Yourself, I was struck by how people found it odd that I’d return to my beginnings in a structured way. I thought it was odd that they wouldn’t, and that there wasn’t a rite of passage involving a pilgrimage back to the place you started from — especially to school, where you spent so many of your young waking hours.

I was pleased to see that one high school, featured in a NY Times article, has been holding such a rite of passage for about 10 years.

At Trinity, one of Manhattan’s oldest independent schools, a roomful of graduating seniors and their childhood teachers unearthed these pieces of the past at the annual survivors breakfast, a rite of passage for seniors who received all 13 years of their formal education at Trinity. Over coffee and bagels and chocolate Jell-O pudding doused with crushed Oreos and gummy worms (a class of 2010 culinary tradition), the students reconnected with teachers and dished about who, at age 5 , ate Play-Doh, sang well and cried whenever his mom left the room. …

… The breakfast was the brainchild of Tom Roberts, a fourth-grade teacher. About 10 years ago, he noticed that the graduating class seemed sentimental. They made frequent treks to visit their teachers and talked about how much they missed their early years. He thought it would be nice for students who spent all their school years at Trinity to return to where they started — on the day they graduated. Trinity’s kindergarten classrooms are directly above the Great Hall, where the graduating seniors put on their robes and line up for their class photo.

What a beautiful way to send graduates on to the next phase of their lives: by reconnecting them with the people and places that helped shape them into who they are today.

Comments (5)

  1. Kathleen

    I love this. I think it’s great to revisit your roots. My mom still teaches at my K-8 school and on occasion when I’m home visiting, I’ll stop by the school. It’s always fun to talk to old teachers who still remember me as the precocious five year old.

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  2. Melia

    I had the chance to reconnect with several of my old teachers during the project. It was strange to talk with them as equals and to see them as human beings with lives outside of school. It was also strange to realize that we had all aged 10-25 years!

    I can imagine that you were a chatty little five-year-old! I love that picture of you with a huge grin (one picture of many, I’m sure). I’m sure you were able to get away with a lot.

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  3. Kathleen

    It does help that I was ridiculously cute. I can’t believe you just said we aged 10-25 years!! It’s even more crazy because it’s true! Yikes.

    It really is strange to talk to old teachers as equals. My sister teaches at my high school and she’s really good friends with many of our old teachers. So I see many of them on the social level when I’m home as well. It’s really interesting to talk to them and not be thinking of homework.

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  4. Sara

    Wow, that’s really incredible how these students came back to reconnect and visit with their old teachers. Too often do I hear, “I’ll never come back to this place!” instead.

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  5. Melia

    Kathleen, I KNOW! It tripped me out that I hadn’t seen some of my elementary school teachers in two decades. I wonder if it tripped them out, too.

    Tara, the librarian at my elementary school is an alumna as well; she was a few years ahead of me. One of her former teachers is still at the school and brings her class into the library; whenever she uses a strict voice, Tara’s conditioned response is to sit up straight like she did when she was eight years old.

    Sara, I hadn’t thought of it that way, and it’s so true. That must be one of the most gratifying experiences for a teacher, to see your return on investment and know that your students appreciated you enough to come and chat years later.

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