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Seniors take ceremonial walk

By Karen Colbenson

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

Tears rolled, shouts of happiness rang out and feelings of nostalgia filled the hallways at Austin High School on Tuesday afternoon as the Class of 2009 made its way through the school together for the very last time.

Chris Koppa, 18, remembered walking those same halls four years ago as a freshman feeling scared and anxious.

"Now it’s a feeling of relief," said Koppa.

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Some students cried as they walked by their old lockers and classrooms. Others laughed and shared "remember when" stories. Some students walked silently and watched their classmates absorb the moment.

"It’s all the memories," said 18-year-old Chantell Finley. "They just flash by all in a second."

Senior parade

The final walk-through event for seniors began in 2007 and has since become a highly anticipated end-of-the-year tradition. School counselor Thor Bergland suggested the idea to AHS Principal Brad Bergstrom as a way to honor and recognize seniors on their last day of school.

"The response from it was so positive," said Bergstrom. "You see all kinds of emotions from the kids. It’s an important part of the high school experience."

As the seniors gathered on the lawn outside the school, some of them hugged and wiped away tears. Others pumped their fists in the air and cheered.

"Finally free!" one senior yelled out.

An hour earlier, hundreds of young students at Woodson Kindergarten Center also celebrated their last day of school and the beginning of the 12-year journey.

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Kindergarten teacher Josh McRae led his students out the door to their buses and gave each a hug good-bye.

"It’s kind of bittersweet," McRae said of the last day of school. "You watch them grow through the year and then you send them on their way. It’s always hard to see them go."

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