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Sixth-Graders Leave Elementary School to Applause

Whittier, Highland and Kingsley are among those holding "clap-outs" on the last day of school.

There were a handful of times, in my life as an elementary school mom, when I felt the tears springing to my eyes. The sixth-grade Clap-Out was one of them.

This morning, as the District 58 school year drew to a close, sixth-graders marched through the school hallways one last time as younger students, parents and teachers literally clapped them out of elementary school.

"It really is a lovely tradition," said Elynn Cunningham, assistant principal at Kingsley School, which is one of several Downers Grove elementary schools to end the year with a Clap-Out. "It makes the sixth-graders feel good and allows the other students to honor them, cheer them on and say good-bye."

Highland School Principal Judy Kmak said  her school started observing the tradition in 1995 at a teacher's suggestion. "It's one of the traditions I've brought with me from another district."

Whittier School this morning changed the observance only slightly due to the heavy rain. "This is the first Clap-In we've had since I became principal seven years ago," said Linda Welch. The sixth-graders wound through the hallways to the gym instead of exiting the building as usual.

Pierce Downer School also has held Clap-Outs for years. My son's sixth-grade class, in 2004, was the second or the third to be clapped out. His sister was clapped out in turn four years later.

And I was there with camera and Kleenex, like so many Downers Grove moms and dads this morning.

Cinda K. Lester June 09, 2011 at 06:39 PM
El Sierra does the same - nice to see the halls lined with all the other students applauding the 6th graders for a job well done!
Elizabeth Major June 09, 2011 at 07:49 PM
Only second year that Kingsley has done it - a parent brought the idea to me when I was PTA president last year and we started it - and I did get teary eyed as my 6th grader came out last year... This year's was done inside with fellow classmates K-5 clapping them out - some parents waited outside under umbrellas to at least cheer as they exited!
Julie Shields Thompson June 09, 2011 at 09:56 PM
Yes, we had ours at Pierce this morning. Some of the kids went out rain and all which was fun. It's such an emotional day even for those parents who don't have a 6th grader. We've watched these kids grow up through the years and it seems everyone enjoys watching them advance on to middle school. I had two 6th grade years in a row and will have two at Herrick next year in 7th and 8th. I hope that D58 continues this tradition for years to come so I can clap out my youngest in 2014!
Damienne Souter June 10, 2011 at 04:18 AM
It was done at Lester as well, but this year's was one to remember because it had to be done in the DARK! The power was completely out, but the enthusiasm for the tradition was still there. Flashlights were everywhere, one class of kids was waiving glow sticks, and it was tough to see which kids were coming down the hall until they were right in front of you. Thankfully, the darkness hid my teariness as my own 6th grader walked down those halls for the final time. A great tradition!

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