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Walking toward their futures


Boones Ferry fifth-graders participate in 13th annual Walk to Wood

It may have been a short walk, but in terms of significance, it was huge. Fifth-graders at Boones Ferry celebrated the end of their primary school days by taking part in a ritual as old as the school itself, the 13th annual Walk to Wood.by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Boones Ferry Primary School fifth-graders George Kraecklow (front) and Logan Carpenter encounter a sea of well-wishers, both fellow students as well as teachers, parents and ambassadors from Wood Middle School.

Boones Ferry is unique among primary schools in West Linn and Wilsonville in that it is separated from the middle school its alumni will attend by just a parking lot. On June 12, Boones Ferry fifth-graders started their symbolic journey from primary school to middle school by walking under an arch made of balloons in the Boones Ferry parking lot. The balloons were all blue and green — Boones Ferry colors.

With their teachers and family members lining the sidewalk to cheer them on and all their younger schoolmates blowing bubbles as they passed, the fifth-graders progressed to the middle school at the far end of the parking lot, where they passed through another arch, this one made in Inza R. Wood Middle School colors of blue and orange balloons.

“The kids are met by Wood Ambassadors and some teachers, and they are greeted with high-fives and applause,” Lisa Krecklow said. She is one of the Boones Ferry parents who organized this year’s walk and a parent to George, one of the walkers.by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - It's a chaotic scene under the archway as Boones Ferry fifth-graders, including Langdon Ling (facing camera, front) are greeted by Wood Middle School ambassadors, teachers and parents.

“It’s a tradition that has been around for years. The kids really do look forward to it. It’s a rite of passage,” she said.

“It was very fun having kids blow bubbles at me,” Caden Keyston said. “I’m pretty excited. It looks like a good school.”

Caden’s friend, Bret Turner, also enjoyed the walk, which he called a “cool” tradition. He had been a spectator at the fifth-graders’ walk each year he’d been at Boones Ferry. Being the one doing the walking, he said, definitely was better than just watching.

For Bella Glastra Van Loon, although the walk itself was fun, the best part was arriving at Wood.

“They were all screaming at us and excited,” she said. “A lot of them were smiling and giving us thumbs up.”

Wood’s principal, Barb Soisson, was on hand for the walk, before heading over to Boeckman Creek to participate in those students’ rite of passage as well. She said that she welcomed the arrival of each new class of sixth-grade class.

“I appreciate the spirit of celebration and moving forward ... When we welcome the fifth-graders to Wood, we talk about the collective strength of the group and let them know that we have heard from their parents that they are ready for middle school,” she said. “I think that having this enthusiastic ritual ... can give students a sense that they have accomplished something and that we believe in them.”

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Boones Ferry and the adjacent Wood Middle School have been holding a ceremonial walk for fifth-graders since the former opened 13 years ago. Here, Skylar Summers heads toward the middle school. “It felt really important,” fifth-grader Kyra Allen said. “I know it’s just getting out of elementary school, but it felt like getting out of high school.”

For Halle Isaac, the walk was mostly a roll. She is recovering from spinal fusion surgery, and she started out for Wood riding in style in a wheelchair pushed by her friend.

“It was a little strange going in a wheelchair,” she said. “Until we got stuck, and I had to walk.”

Despite the difficulty getting there, she enjoyed the experience. Asked if she was looking forward to attending middle school, she had a definite answer.

“Mostly,” she said.

Boones Ferry Principal Jennifer Patterson called the tradition “sacred” to her school community. She admitted that, as much as she enjoyed the rite, saying goodbye to each successive class was hard to do.

“It’s a bittersweet thing. But mostly sweet,” she said.

Any sadness is tempered by the knowledge that her Boones Ferry graduates won’t be too far away. In fact, because the middle school is just across the parking lot, many new sixth-graders return to their primary school to help out in the mornings before classes begin at Wood. One of the top volunteers this year, Patterson said, was a former Boones Ferry student, someone who logged more than 200 volunteer hours this year.

“I’m always so impressed with just the strength of our community,” she said. “It just takes my breath away.”

By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
503-636-1281, ext. 112
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