Hemet High School’s Summer Walk tradition dates back to 1932
■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
Just about every high school across the land has a unique tradition to celebrate their 12th graders’ collective accomplishments. Whether it’s special events or a selection of campus real estate, no two schools do things exactly alike. At Hemet High School, members of the incoming senior class spend the summer prior to senior year painting a prime piece of real estate known as the Senior Walk. It’s a stretch of concrete located along the outside of the multipurpose room wall in the Commons. The Valley Chronicle spent time at HHS this summer, learning about the history that lies at students’ feet.
The HHS Associated Student Body is in charge of the changing of the walk each summer. The Class of 2018’s design and application were spearheaded by ASB President Asheley Rivere.
“I think it’s just an awesome way for our class to come together as a class,” said Asheley. “Not as individuals but as a group. And it’s just a way for us to express our childhood (memories).”
Originally, the Senior Walk was painted mainly in school colors and marked with the current graduating class’ year. Since the turn of the century, the Walk now gets a change of theme, color scheme and artistic influence each year. Themes for the senior walk have spanned the decades and incorporated various pop culture franchises.
The walk has defied the Aztec calendar, gone “Back to the Future,” celebrated the era of James Dean and Elvis Presley, and paid tribute to the works of Dr. Seuss. Along the curb lining the walk, every registered student’s name appears in recognition of their progress to this point. This year the Class of 2018 chose famous Walt Disney characters to express their style.
According to the 1997 yearbook, the Senior Walk started out in life at the Santa Fe Campus in 1932 and was located in front of the old Main Building there. The old building is long gone now, but the tradition is alive and well.
Of course, teachers were at one point seniors in their own right. For HHS Principal Dr. Emily Shaw, senior year as a Chino High School Cowgirl had its own traditions.
“I remember being part of the daisy chain, but I remember when we were on daisy chain… we had to go around the community and find the ivy,” recalled Shaw.
And to bring the Cowgirls some luck, Shaw had sleepovers with her basketball teammates. “We slept in the gym the night before the season started, as a whole team.”
But most memorable about her senior year was one teacher in particular.
“His name was Mr. Filarski. He was a big guy with a booming voice and a long beard who taught AP government,” said Shaw. “He was a Grateful Dead fan and had an amazing way of connecting with students. His class was the only class that I was comfortable enough with the material to take the AP exam, which I passed and earned credit in college for.”
Despite its name, the school’s tradition of walking the entire graduating class around the campus along the senior walk on their last day of school actually started in 2016, according to Dr. Shaw. “We realize this is the last time they’ll walk the campus – the last day is very touching and it’s fun to be a part of.”
Shaw describes this tradition as a celebration of her students’ accomplishments: “The best thing about our school is our kids.”
After spending many summer mornings and afternoons on their labor of love, Hemet Unified provided the clear coat to seal the deal and protect it from being trodden under foot until the Class of 2019 takes their turn at expressing their creativity.
Visitors to the campus and those who have recently moved to the valley now have insight into a unique senior tradition, and it is hoped a greater appreciation for the efforts put forth by each class to immortalize their Bulldog unity. If you attend or visit the campus this year, you can also spot The Valley Chronicle’s contribution to the Walk if you look closely.