Back to the beginning: High school seniors are welcomed back to La Jolla elementary schools

Graduating high school seniors who attended La Jolla Elementary School visit the new buildings on the LJES campus June 8.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Reunions at Bird Rock, La Jolla and Torrey Pines Elementary give the teens a chance to celebrate their graduation with former teachers and classmates, current students, parades and old photos and yearbooks.


As La Jolla’s graduating seniors prepare to leave their high schools’ halls for good, many of them participated in an additional procession — around the campuses of their former elementary schools.

Each of the three public elementary schools in La Jolla hosted the seniors for a celebration with current students, a parade, refreshments and a walk down memory lane.

Bird Rock Elementary School

Former Bird Rock Elementary School students who are graduating from high school gather to catch up June 6.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Graduating seniors who went to Bird Rock Elementary gathered at the school’s front gates June 6, beginning their reunion with a parade around the campus as current pupils waved flags and cheered.

The seniors then snacked as they hugged former teachers — most of whom marveled at their vertical growth — and viewed old yearbooks and letters from teachers who were unable to attend. They also had a chance to get caught up with one another’s lives.

Graduating high school seniors check out old class photos and letters from former teachers at Bird Rock Elementary School.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Returning is “weird,” said Bird Rock alumna and La Jolla High School senior Delaney Walsh. “I don’t have any younger siblings, so I never came back after I left.”

The school “is the same in a lot of ways,” she said, “but it’s also super different and it’s cool to see all the changes that they’ve made. But it’s also fun to see all the same things.”

Walsh has remained with the same group of friends since they all attended BRES, she said. “We all kept pretty well in touch. That’s pretty rare.”

Eight seniors graduating from Bishop’s, La Jolla Country Day and La Jolla High receive honors for their high grades and other accomplishments.

June 10, 2023

La Jolla Elementary School

Ex-La Jolla Elementary School Principal Donna Tripi surprises graduating high school seniors ahead of their reunion at LJES.
Former La Jolla Elementary School Principal Donna Tripi surprises graduating high school seniors ahead of their reunion at LJES.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

There was a lot of change to talk about for the returning former students of La Jolla Elementary. The campus is undergoing a whole-site modernization with several new buildings and the removal of many older structures, so a lot is different from when they attended years ago.

The LJES reunion June 8 began with a surprise visit from former Principal Donna Tripi, who left the school in 2018.

“It’s a wonderful group of kids,” Tripi said.

Tripi led the senior parade around the campus, through the new buildings and into the library for food and conversation. As they looked in wonder at the changes, seniors received high-fives and congratulations from current LJES students.

“I’m not going to lie, coming back feels really odd,” said La Jolla High senior Henry Cavanaugh. “It’s really different.”

Cavanaugh said he misses reciting holiday poetry in the library and attending the school’s special events.

“Being here now … a lot of memories are coming back,” he added. “I’m excited for the new ones that will be created.”

Torrey Pines Elementary School

Graduating high school seniors who attended Torrey Pines Elementary School reunite June 8.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The seniors returning to Torrey Pines Elementary were treated to snacks and a photo backdrop with a Polaroid camera June 8.

Instead of a parade, current TPES students visited in groups to ask questions of the visitors and congratulate them on their accomplishments.

Current Torrey Pines Elementary School students mingle with high school seniors to congratulate them.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Teachers showed old class photos and took pictures with their former students, gasping at how they’ve grown and changed.

“It’s weird,” La Jolla Country Day School senior Capri Lewis said of returning. “It feels very nostalgic and everything feels a lot smaller than it did. Everything [seemed] drastically bigger back then.” ◆