By Izabella Perez
A KID AGAIN: Seniors Jessica Perez and Jacquelynn Arias pose with their Frozen 2 and Pokémon childrens backpacks. The senior class of 2022 wore kids’ backpacks for their first day back to school, following a popular trend that originated on TikTok. (Photo by Sarah Perez)
The first day back to school in one and half years was greatly anticipated. Students stayed awake through the night, too anxious and excited for the next morning and texting their friends to ensure they would be there to walk each other to the first class of the day. Seniors were planning something different to go along with their first-day outfit: teens across the country showed up to the first day of school with kids’ backpacks featuring their favorite Disney princesses and Nickelodeon cartoons.
This trend first originated on TikTok where users would post videos of their first day back to school after a full year of online learning with their senior class equipped with kids’ backpacks. The videos went viral and soon senior classes in high schools across the country were following suit and buying kids’ backpacks from their local Walmarts and Targets. West Broward’s senior class officers Andrea Guzman and Angelina Campos organized the trend and informed the students of the event taking place the first day back to school.
“I saw a trend on TikTok where seniors from the class of 2022 started wearing kids character backpacks on the first day of school,” said senior Andrea Guzman who wore a Frozen backpack. “I posted it on my Instagram story and asked the seniors from class of 2022 at West Broward if they would be willing to do it and I got a lot of responses saying that they were interested but they were scared that they would be the only ones that would actually follow through with it.”
The halls were filled with colorful backpacks for the one-day event. Students gathered at lunch and between classes to take photos with friends they have not seen in months with their matching backpacks. Many students remarked at how fun of an experience it was to be part of a schoolwide plan again for the first time in years.
“I hope that it left positive energy and an exciting start for what’s to come this year. Our seniors are pumped and ready to see what’s next,” said senior class president Angelina Campos who wore a Disney princess backpack. “The expectation was for a moderately large turnout. We definitely got exactly what we expected and even got more because a lot of people are still using their backpacks. We love seeing it.”
The tendency of marketed youthful merchandise and entertainment being consumed by teens isn’t an unfamiliar one. Earlier in quarantine, teenagers found enjoyment in video games and TV shows intended for a younger audience.
“I think the whole thing started because kids wanted to feel like kids again,” said senior Reese Burke who wore a Minecraft backpack on the first day. “I feel that a lot of us agree that a good portion of the best years of our life got taken away from us, so this was something to help us reconnect with a part of us that felt more carefree.”
Following a successful character backpack day and the first day back to school, the 2022 senior class has high hopes for the school year, planning and organizing events they were not able to execute during sophomore year. Guzman and the rest of the class officers are currently working on organizing a way for students to donate their children’s backpack to younger students in need, not wanting the quality items to go to waste. This event marked the beginning of a new era and gave students hope for a more normal year to come.
“My idea was to create a tradition that we would leave hopefully ongoing after we had graduated from West Broward high school in which every senior class would wear character backpacks on the first day of school,” said Guzman. “Once they were finished wearing them, they would donate them to an organization for kids that need them more than we do.”
BACKPACK DAY: West Broward seniors gather on the pavilion for a group photo with their kids backpacks on the first day of school. The senior class officers organized for seniors to wear childrens backpacks on their first day back and a way for students to donate their backpacks to younger students in need. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Guzman)