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High School Seniors Are Buying Kindergarten Backpacks To Show How Far They've Come

The trend is catching on across the country, and it's adorable.

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High school seniors are getting nostalgic by buying kid backpacks for their last year in school.
TikTok / @tamialanaee / @karlieissoswag

Is your kid dying to get a new Buzz Lightyear backpack that has wings that pop out of the sides? Is she also 18 years old? You may just be experiencing a new teen trend that seems to be sweeping the nation (and at least some of Canada): the senior backpack trend.

Here’s what’s happening: seniors in high school are ditching their cool demeanor and opting for silliness and nostalgia in a way that is awesome. Instead of reaching for an adult bag to tote their pencils and books, they’re reaching for tiny kindergarten and elementary school-sized bags, branded with their favorite cartoon characters, past and present.

Dad Jeremiah (@blessupinspiration on TikTok) spotted the trend in a recent video, where he’s showing off his daughter’s senior year backpack — it’s tiny and has a Disney Princess theme.

“This is my daughter’s going back to school back pack — for her senior year in high school,” he begins, holding up the very pink and sparkly thing. “From what she’s telling me, they all get this little kid backpack for their senior year to take them back to kindergarten, first grade. The kind of backpack they would wear back then to graduate high school in, man. It’s like full circle.”

Jeremiah is a fan, and it seems like he’s far from alone.

“I’ve never heard of this before, but it’s the coolest thing ever to me,” he exclaims.

Jeremiah is in the Dallas Fort Worth area, but it seems like the trend is hot in Texas, across the Southern states, and creeping up through the country in places like Utah, Arizona, California, and Maryland. Some write that lots of high schoolers, in every grade, are also partaking (maybe they just can’t wait?).

A search of #seniorbackpacks brings up a delightful montage of kids returning for their last year of school in major elementary school style. Some favorite choices include Spiderman, Minecraft, Cars, Bluey, SpongeBob, Star Wars, Sesame Street, Barbie, Lilo and Stitch, Mario Bros., Hello Kitty, Ninja Turtles, Batman, Dora the Explorer, Frozen, and more.

Bags with bells and whistles seem especially popular, with lots of teen opting for bags with special keychains, themed detachable lunch bags, matching headphones, 3D elements, sequins, and shine. Do not look for plain, grown-up, or non-flashy bags here.

When did the senior backpack trend start?

It’s not clear when the trend started, but from information gain in comments sections, it’s been a regional TikTok trend since at least 2021, and probably existed in pockets, especially in the South, for up to a decade before this. But this year it seems like it is catching on like fire (that means even the olds are noticing).

Who is participating in the senior backpack trend?

While some schools report that only seniors get to revisit their earlier childhoods, others say that it’s fun and acceptable for juniors, sophomores, and freshman to partake in the trend, too. We’re guessing, though that middle school and junior high school kids are too young to make kindergarten bags cool again.

As far as regionally, it seems like schools across the United States — and some in Canada — have picked up on the trend, though it’s more popular in the South, Southwest, and West Coast. In some schools, it’s looks like participation is super high or even universal. Still, though, other schools are holding on to older trends — one teen responding to the TikToks about senior backpacks explained that seniors at her school didn’t wear backpacks at all (how??) as a sign of their impending freedom.

Senior year can come with stress, both social and academic. It can also feel like the last time you get to be a kid. The senior backpack trend is so wholesome — it’s hard not to love it. And hard not to think of our little fresh-faced five-year-olds as they stepped onto the bus for the first time all those years ago, with their brand new backpacks.

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