ANACORTES — The hallways and classrooms of Fidalgo Elementary School were almost exactly how Jared Vandeway remembered them.

“I like how most things haven’t changed,” the Anacortes High School senior said Friday, on the morning of his graduation.

Vandeway did notice the ceilings seemed a bit lower these days.

That was understandable. He was a lot smaller when he attended the school.

“The classrooms that used to look so big are kind of small now,” Fidalgo Elementary School Principal Tara Dowd said.

Soon-to-be high school graduates visited the Anacortes School District’s elementary schools Friday to reminisce about where they came from and to get younger students excited about the future.

“(We want to) show the little kids it’s possible to make it to the end,” senior Melissa Foster said.

This is the first year the Anacortes district has had graduates walk through the elementary schools, and it likely won’t be the last. Other districts in the county have also started the tradition.

Dowd sees the impact such a tradition can have.

“We want to create a high school and even college graduating culture,” she said.

Walking through their old school, Vandeway and dozens of high school classmates high-fived the elementary school students lining the halls.

“If I can do it, so can any of you,” Vandeway told them.

For Vandeway, who said he often struggled in school, the opportunity was one to provide hope to the younger students to prevent them from dropping out of school.

“All these little kids have so much potential,” he said.

Anacortes High School held its graduation Friday evening. It was the last of the Skagit County high schools to do so.

The last day of school is June 22.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141,, Twitter: @Kera_SVH,

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