McMinnville High School student Elide Sanchez leads a group of seniors Thursday through the halls of Newby Elementary School. The class of 2015 graduates at 7 p.m. tonight.
McMinnville High School student Elide Sanchez leads a group of seniors Thursday through the halls of Newby Elementary School. The class of 2015 graduates at 7 p.m. tonight.
By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Seniors visit their elementary schools

This was the third year for the “Parade of Graduates.” It had Newby Elementary School third-graders thinking ahead to the 12th year of their education, when they will be the 18-year-olds returning to see old teachers and offer words of advice to younger students.

“I want to come back in a red robe,” said Mason Smark, as he applauded the graduating Grizzlies.

Classmate Zoe Luttrell said she’s looking forward to that, too. “It’s really cool when you go off and be in high school, then come back here,” she said.

A few members of the Class of 2015 had returned to Newby since they were Zoe and Mason’s age.

Walter Stahl, for instance, did an education pathway internship at the school. He’s also been back to see his mom, who works at Newby.

Still, he said, coming back on the eve of graduation made him a little sad.

“It shows I’m growing up,” said Stahl, who’ll major in biology at Oregon State University next year. “But I don’t want to forget my roots. This is my home.”

To celebrate, he led students young and old in a round of the Newby Tiger song.

“We are Newby Tigers and we’re proud that we are. ‘Cause we learn lots of things and we’re getting so much smarter. We must all stick together like a family that cares. We are Newby Tigers!”

Other visiting  graduates said they were thrilled, excited and somewhat overwhelmed to walk the halls of Newby again.

“I saw my Tiger tile!” exclaimed Samantha Purdy, pointing out the orange and black cat she painted in second grade.

Tiles made by her class line the hall outside the gym, where she and other students climbed a faux-rock wall, played with a parachute and did “Dance Dance Revolution.” “The gym seems smaller,” said Purdy, looking around at the familiar, yet unfamiliar surroundings.

Purdy and other members of the Class of 2015 will graduate tonight. Ceremonies start at 7 p.m. at Wortman Stadium.

Then she will be off to OSU as a pre-med major.

She’s been planning since she was 4 to become a pediatrician. “I’ve just applied myself to that,” she said.

That message — dream big and concentrate on your studies — was at the core of everything the seniors mentioned when they spoke to Newby students Thursday.

They told them about their successes in high school that led them to earn awards for good grades, career pathway studies or activities. And they discussed their plans to go to college to study engineering, business, architecture sociology and other subjects.

Santiago Elias-Flores told Newby students — including his younger brother Angel — that hard work and dreaming of the future starts in elementary school.

When he was a Newby student, he was captivated by space exploration. After developing an idea to use a slingshot to propel a spaceship to Mars, he wrote an essay that won first place in a national contest. Astronaut Stanley Love visited the school to present his prize, a trip to NASA headquarters in Florida to watch a space shuttle launch.

Elias-Flores said he’s been applying himself to his studies ever since. Next fall, he plans to go to the University of Oregon to start law studies.

“Work incredibly hard,” he told younger students, “and you can be anything you want to be.”



What a great article and makes me proud of our city and especially Newby Elementary School (which I attended myself a long time ago). Good luck to the Graduates of 2015!!

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