For most high school seniors, the month of May is all about preparing for graduation and the future. It's also a time to reflect on the past dozen years of school. In Galesburg, those memories include a trip back to the school where their education started.
The event is called the "Memory Walk" last year. Graduating seniors have the option of participating in it on their final day of school.
The students meet in Thiel Gym, where they don their caps and gowns. They then walk through the halls of the high school as teachers and fellow students applaud and cheer them on.
Once they complete the walk through the high school, the seniors take buses to the grade schools they attended. They receive a similar reception there, though this time grade school students hand out the high fives and cheers.
This is the second year the high school has done the Memory Walk. Principal Jeff Houston brought the idea to Galesburg after his wife saw it done in other school districts. Houston thinks everyone benefits from the event.
"Our grade school kids will meet them and greet them, and they’ll see what it means to be a high school graduate. It’s good for the little kids to see what this experience is all about,” he said.
“And it’s good for our graduates to understand that there’s a lot of people that got them to this point, and they get to go back and see some of those teachers.”
Around 100 students from the Class of 2017 participated in the Memory Walk. Paul Cabrera enjoyed the trip back to King Elementary School where he high-fived kids, hugged former teachers, and even checked out how much one of the bathrooms changed over the years.
Cabrera said he sees the Memory Walk as a way to inspire kids.
"I want to see kids in this community succeed and just having this opportunity --giving out a simple high five means a whole world to a kid that age," Cabrera said.
Before the former King Elementary students returned to the high school, they all gathered in front of the school's marquee. They took a picture there in their caps and gowns to cap off the trip down memory lane.