Sunnyside holds Parade of Honour for graduating students

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High school graduation is a great milestone for teens, but on Friday, it was also a big day for students at Sunnyside School, an elementary where the oldest students are still six years away from their own graduation.

Sunnyside invited former students who are now part of Kate Andrews High Schools’ Class of 2015 to visit the school anytime Friday morning. Kate Andrews celebrates its graduation ceremonies Friday afternoon.

Principal Connie Adserballe said she wasn’t sure what kind of response Sunnyside’s invitation would receive from Grade 12 students busily preparing for their grad ceremony.

By mid-morning four former students — Torrie Kasner, Steven Schaaf, Stephen and Ben Tokariuk — had visited, where they received superstar welcomes from cheering elementary students and staff.

Stephen Tokariuk said he, brother Ben and friend Steven, were part of a group of nine students who attended up to Grade 6 at Sunnyside. Almost all of the classmates are still together in Kate Andrews’ Class of 2015.

“I thought it was so awesome,” Tokariuk said, of being invited back to his elementary school. “I was so excited to come back.”

When the group of three former students were spotted in the parking lot, Sunnyside students and staff sprang into action, lining the hall and greeting the three boys with cheers.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Tokariuk said. “They were clapping for us. . . I felt really good.”

During their visit, the boys reminisced with their Grade 6 teacher, Ken VanCleave.

“We still talk about when we were in Grade 6,” Tokariuk said. “We had a class of eight boys and one girl. Mr. VanCleave would always find fun things for us to do. That was the best for me.”

He said he hopes the graduates’ visit will inspire current Sunnyside students.

“They know when they leave, they’ll still remember everything that went on at school,” he said.

Adserballe said the graduates’ Parade of Honour seemed especially impactful for current Grade 5 and 6 students, who were already talking about coming back to Sunnyside when they graduate high school.