‘Clap Out’ reunites former Wilson students


Francis F. Wilson Elementary School students and faculty welcomed back former students, during its sixth annual Clap Out event on June 12. The event serves as both a class reunion and a send-off for the soon-to-be graduating seniors of South Side High School.

Wilson principal James Duffy greeted the 57 high school seniors as they arrived, while students, parents and faculty gathered around clapping, shouting and cheering on the high school seniors as they paraded around the building. Everyone then gathered inside the auditorium to formally welcome students and extend their congratulations to the future college freshman.

“With the Clap Out, we wanted to help unite you to your beginnings,” Duffy explained. The event was a way to help conjure feelings of nostalgia and provide perspective for the seniors and their families, by reminding them of how far they have come and how much they can accomplish in the future.

Duffy said that he is proud to have such a rich tradition at Wilson that connects students and the community even after they complete their education. He credited Kara Spinelli, a fifth-grade teacher at Wilson and Parent Teacher coordinator, for orchestrating the Clap Out for the past six years.

Following the presentation, a video was shown featuring some of the kindergarten class, who shared their advice on how to succeed in college. While the youngest elementary learners have yet to experience all that their elder counterparts have, they provided some welcome suggestions. In the video, the kindergarteners advised the graduating seniors not to be a bully, to have fun, to always try their best, to remember their backpacks, to build robots, to remember to call their parents and several other uplifting suggestions.

High school seniors then gathered outside to take pictures in front of the school, while the more than 300 elementary school students and teachers made some noise with tambourines and maracas, while “Pomp and Circumstance” played over the loudspeakers.

Not only was the Clap Out a great experience for the students, but also the teaching staff. Several of the teacher took the time to catch up with their former students, who they’ve watched grow and reconnected with parents who they have not seen in the past seven years.

“It’s great for (the returning seniors) to see the teachers and for us to see them long after we’ve taught them,” Spinelli said.

The annual Clap Out provided students with the Wilson Class of 2017 an opportunity to reflect on their time in the elementary school and how far they have come in their academic journey. It also reminded them of the welcoming and positive environment that has prepared them for success in college and in their future careers.

Wilson will carry on its annual tradition next year, which also marks a major milestone for Duffy, who became principal during the 2017-2018 school year.