They arrived to cheers and fanfare—and drum lines—and waded into a sea of smiling kids who offered high fives and hugs.

February had arrived, and that meant that it was time for the McKinney ISD Senior Adult Tour. Over the course of eight years, it has become a much-anticipated day of fun and discovery for the 70 or so senior adults who take part and for the students who get the chance to showcase their schools.

McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel and MISD Board member Maria McKinzie were onboard along with Board President Amy Dankel this year as the festive caravan made its first stop at Finch Elementary, then headed over to McKinney North High School and wrapped up the day at Scott Johnson Middle School.

For retired McKinney ISD teacher Betty Rutledge, the tour always serves to reinforce what she already knows—that MISD kids are afforded tremendous educational opportunities, and they make great use of them.

“I will tell you what I told one of the girls over at McKinney North,” Rutledge said. “This really gives seniors hope for the future. It is so reassuring to see these wonderful accomplishments and the wonderful kids with these fantastic teachers in these superlative facilities.”

At Finch, the guests were treated to a multicultural dance presentation, received a history lesson on the school from “Fanny Finch” herself, and then followed student tour guides to various classrooms around the campus. They tried out robots in the library and dove into instructional technology in other classes.

At North, they shared a catered lunch with members of the school’s Blue Blazer ambassadors and Student Council members and then visited career and technical education and elective classes in North’s expansion wing that was completed in 2016. Along the way, they checked out the aviation classroom and chatted with Coach Jessica Richards’ PALS students.

“I love North,” said Student Body President Annabel Martjuchin, who served as a guide for one of the tour groups. “So, I’m happy that they get to kind of see what it’s like nowadays in high school. I like for them to be able to see electives, specifically, just because that’s more of an outlet and what students really love to do—what they are passionate about.”

What school is like nowadays is that’s it’s different—yet the same—explained Dr. Mitch Curry at the tour’s final stop of the day, Scott Johnson Middle School. There, the tour visited choir, band and orchestra classes, observed an AVID class in action and danced alongside P.E. students in the gym.

“Kids learn in different ways,” Curry explained to the Senior Tour group as they relaxed in the library. “They learn at different rates. They learn at different times. It’s just different than it was before. Although…it’s the same. They still need a good teacher. They need a good community supporting them. They need great administrators, a great board to support them. All that’s the same.”

SJMS seventh-grade AVID student Ella Morrow had the opportunity to lead a group around campus and appreciated the interest they showed in her school.

“It means a lot to me because it shows that my school is important and that people really enjoy coming [here]. A lot of people know about the school and…it’s shared around the world,” she said. [Scott Johnson Middle School is an AVID National Demonstration School.]“It feels good to show it to older people…It’s a lot of fun.”

And, fun is a big part of what the day is all about.

For Rutledge, who invested more than 30 years in MISD as an educator, it’s also fulfilling to see others carrying on the same mission with passion and fervor—some of them, students she once taught.

“Oh, it just lifts us off the floor to see our former students and teachers who are our former students,” she said. “It just feels good.”