Each year, the graduating class of Fraser High School takes one last walk past their fellow students and out onto the football field to meet with their families.

Each year, the graduating class of Fraser High School takes one last walk past their fellow students and out onto the football field to meet with their families.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

Fraser’s Class of 2023 takes a walk

By: Brendan Losinski | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published June 6, 2023

 Graduating seniors at Fraser High School end their Senior Walk on the football field for photos and an ice cream social.

Graduating seniors at Fraser High School end their Senior Walk on the football field for photos and an ice cream social.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

FRASER — Each year, on their last day of class, the graduating seniors of Fraser High School take one last walk around the building to the cheers of their fellow students and led by the school marching band.

Known as the “Senior Walk,” it has become a Fraser High School tradition — one that serves as a capstone for their high school experience.

“The Senior Walk has been going on for more than 12 years, before I was even here,” said Superintendent Carrie Wozniak. “It started when a former principal, who went on to be my predecessor as superintendent, Dr. (David) Richards, and it is a great tradition. All of our families get to come on the seniors’ last day and they get to enjoy seeing their kids in their cap and gown and see them make one last walk around the school and football field. It lets us celebrate the graduating class.”

“It’s a celebration of our students. It’s a last chance to walk through the hallways, to see their teachers, to high five their friends and celebrate their successes before graduation,” said Fraser High School Principal Ryan Sines. “We’re really proud of the Class of 2023 and wish them the best for the future.”

Frankie Palazzolo is the class’ student council president, and he will be going to Loyola University in Chicago in the fall. She said the Senior Walk is something that means a lot to students and helps them bring a sense of finality to their time in the Fraser Public Schools system.

“I think it’s a great tradition,” she said. “It’s nice to see the middle schoolers come out on the track with us and to see the underclassmen in the building lining the halls. We’re heading to our elementary schools after this to see our old teachers. It’s a very exciting time.”

The walk leads them through the school and out onto the football field where their friends and loved ones wait for them. Younger students from the middle school often come out to witness the walk and the underclassmen at the high school line the halls.

“They start in the auditorium with some motivational speeches by some of their favorite teachers,” said Wozniak. “Then they take one walk around the first floor of the high school with the band leading them. Then they head out to the football field for a walk around the field and it is concluded with pictures and an ice cream social out on our beautiful field.”

The walk is preceded by speeches given by a group of teachers, voted on by the graduating class.

“They hear from their teachers, and it’s very similar to the speech I give (at graduation),” said Sines. “It’s words of encouragement and talking about their growth over the past four years. They talk about experiences and athletic accomplishments they achieved. Whether they go to college or a career or the military, we try to tell them to keep their options open and this is a chance to start the next chapter of their lives.”

The Class of 2023 possibly had more reason than usual to celebrate and commemorate at graduation, since they were perhaps the class hit hardest by COVID-19. The lockdown began halfway through their freshman year and cast a shadow over virtually their entire high school experience.

“It did affect them. I think these students learned resiliency,” said Sines. “They learned how to learn differently, how to practice differently and accommodate to new norms of society. Then they had to switch back to how things were before. They had to be flexible. For all that they had to face, it really speaks to their character. Everyone faces adversity sooner or later, and unfortunately, they had to face it while they were very young.”

Faith Aloia, one of the class’ two salutatorians, will be attending Michigan State University in the fall. She said the last four years have been a challenge, but that only makes reaching this final day all the more significant.

“It feels great to be here today,” she said. “I am so happy to be finally graduated and done with high school.”

“It feels amazing. I am so proud of us and everyone in our class,” added Alisha Gentz, also a salutatorian, and a future University of Michigan Wolverine. “It’s so cool to be able to walk through the halls for the last time and see all of our friends one last time in high school. You don’t realize a lot of little things until you have to leave them behind.”

Both said they were happy to have a day to say goodbye to those who have helped them through the high school experience and to, hopefully, have the chance to inspire younger students.

“I have to give a shoutout to Ms. Fugate, our History Day advisor and the eighth grade history teacher, because it was so nice to see her as part of all of this today,” said Aloia. “She’s been really influential to me (in my educational experience), and we don’t really get to say goodbye to people like her without the walk.”

The Class of 2023 will have a lot of memories, both good and bad, but many voiced how the Senior Walk is a great way to celebrate the entire experience.

“It’s very bittersweet,” said Palazzolo. “I’m very excited to move onto bigger and better things, but it is hard to leave the people that I love and the Fraser community here.”