Everything was business as usual Friday morning at Veterans Elementary School in Hannibal.

Kids ran during physical education class.

The cafeteria staff readied lunch.

Teachers led lessons as the school year begins to wind down.

Then, around 9:45 a.m., something unusual happened. The doors opened and students filed down the hallway, donning red caps and gowns.

No, these aren’t six-, seven-, or eight-year-olds in grade school. These were Hannibal High School seniors, visiting the elementary schools they grew up in for the last time before becoming graduates. Veterans students caught a glimpse of what their lives would look like in about ten years. The younger students cheered on the older students who once walked those halls — students who went from addition and subtraction and reading simple sentences to algebra and multi-page essays.

Although the visit by the seniors to their old stomping grounds was brief — they walked down the hall and back to buses — it was a reminder of their educational journey that for some will soon end, and for others who will enter a new chapter in an educational career.

Seniors visiting elementary schools in their caps and gowns began several years ago as a social media trend, but this was the first year Hannibal took part in the budding tradition. Earlier this year, principals at Hannibal’s five elementary schools were asked about having the seniors back for a few moments prior to graduation.

“They were all excited for this to take place,” said Ted Sampson, Hannibal High School principal.

The younger students were excited too. Leading the seniors through Veterans Elementary were students Maggie Riley and Kendall Adams.

“We hope this adds to the experience of the excitement of the graduation process,” Sampson said. “The younger students get to see the seniors dressed in cap and gown, and hopefully allow the seniors to reminisce about past experiences as an elementary student in the school district. Also, we can allow teachers who may have had these students years ago see them as they end their tenure as a student in the Hannibal School District.”

The effort to get seniors to the elementary school was led by HHS guidance counselor JoAnn McCullom.

“I asked some of our officers and students if that was something they’d be interested in, and they said yes,” she said.

McCullom was one of the HHS staff members that accompanied seniors to Veterans Elementary.

“Overall, they (seniors) were surprised and excited and I think it made them proud of themselves to see the little kids clapping and cheering for them,”she said.

The public school journey for seniorswill come to a conclusion when Hannibal hosts its annual commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 17.

Reach editor Eric Dundon at eric.dundon@courierpost.com .