Two Bitterroot Valley schools participated in the new practice of seniors in cap and gown walking through younger grades.

Darby High School seniors wore their caps and gowns and got high fives from elementary school students as they took their “Senior Walk” on Thursday.

English teacher Jennifer Burdette said it was a great idea.

“Today our elementary students shared in the excitement of high school graduation,” she said. “With over half of this year’s graduating class having attended Darby schools since kindergarten, the walk through was a thrilling experience for the seniors.”

Burdette said many of the seniors commented that it felt great to be back in the halls of the elementary school but this time as graduates of Darby High School.

The tie between kindergarten and graduation is significant to the community. This year, the Darby school, parents and community members collaborated with the Bitterroot Community Federal Credit Union creating a “Darby Brilliant Beginnings” program. It establishes a savings account for each student entering kindergarten in the district, starting the student on a career pathway to success.

This year 20 students enrolled and they have received deposits to their individual accounts from the program as well as from anonymous donors.

According to Burdette, the “Darby Brilliant Beginnings” program is the first automatic savings account in Montana. Each year parents of incoming kindergarten students will have the chance to enroll in Darby Brilliant Beginnings.

“Connecting the high school students today with the kindergarten students was a great step toward showing the younger students that graduation from high school is important and matters,” Burdette said.

Hamilton High School seniors also did a “Senior Walk” through Washington and Daly Elementary Schools to reinforce the message to young students that graduation matters.

Reach reporter Michelle McConnaha at 363-3300 or michelle.mcconnaha@ravallirepublic.com.