Eighth-graders make last stand in Howell hallways
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They owned these hallways for the past year.
On Thursday, the last day of school, eighth-graders at Howell Middle School gave it one last go. The soon-to-be high schoolers paraded through the halls they've come to know over the past three years in the school's ceremonial "final walk."
"Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye," some of them chanted to the cheers of sixth- and seventh-graders, teachers, staff and even some former Howell students echoing down the corridors.
Other graduating Wildcats offered passing high fives, triumphant fists in the air or pageant waves as they marched the halls one last time.
"We're not going to see this place anymore. This is it," said Caleb Rivera, 14.
"We're going to miss our teachers and staff who helped us along the way," his friend, Charlie Traugott added.
Among the excitement, there were, of course, some tears.
Pauline Traugott's proud smile caught some of her teardrops as she watched her son, Charlie, parade through the halls.
"It's the end of a phase of his life, and he's moving on to bigger and better things," she said.
She's been working at the school as a substitute teacher since January, in part so she could see more of Charlie and her other son, who will be a seventh-grader at Howell next year.
"But it doesn't last forever," she said, watching her son from afar. "You see them mature ... You see the good choices they make. It makes you proud."
After the eighth-graders made their way to the gym, the rest of the school followed for a talent show kicked off by the Howell Hip Hop team.
Kajsa Price is the only eighth-grader on the team, which will be the part she said she'll miss most from her three years as a Wildcat.
But she's prepared to be a Titan, having already made it on to East High School's hip hop team.
Kajsa said she feels prepared for high school, in part thanks to her English teacher, Pamela Edge.
"She pushes us into doing the best we can. She motivates us a lot," Kajsa said.
Edge was across the gym in pigtails, preparing for a skit with Principal Clark Motley. During her last six years at Howell, she said one of her favorite times of year is the eighth-grade "final walk," during which students' confidence is on full display.
"Seeing these individuals who, at the beginning of the year, may have been looking down, and now they're walking down the halls with confidence that they're going to be someone when they grow up," Edge said. "I'd like to know that I was a little part of it - that little push that made them into the adults they're going to be."