Soon-to-be Xavier High School grads visit kindergartners to give a glimpse of the future

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Teenagers in navy caps and gowns towered over a group of kindergarten students Wednesday, just weeks before their high school graduation ceremony.

After they receive their diplomas, they told the younger students, they’re going to be football players, engineers, nurses and teachers.

“This is where our roots grew,” Jake Guckenberger, 17, said. “Where we met everyone. It’s amazing how far we’ve come.”

The kindergartners echoed the older students’ answers when asked what they want to be someday, then jumped at the chance to play with the high-schoolers.

“It’s crazy to see how little everything is,” said Sophia Maher, 18, sitting in a miniature chair with a grinning kindergarten student in her lap. “We used to be just like them.”

Sooner than they think, kindergarten teacher Michelle Riley said, her current students will be in their own mortar boards.

“I hope they look forward to graduating from Xavier,” said Addy Hoffman, 18.

Xavier High, a private Catholic school with a yearly tuition of $5,870, has a perfect graduation rate this year. Xavier High Principal Tom Keating said nearly all the school’s students, 98 percent, enroll in college and 91 percent of those students earn a degree in five years.

Inviting graduating seniors to visit their old elementary schools was meant to be nostalgic of their journey through Xavier Catholic schools, school officials said, and to inspire the younger students.

“It teaches the kindergartners the value of Catholic education, and it gives them something to strive for — lets them see their dreams can come true,” St. Jude Elementary Principal Ronda Krystofiak said, as kindergartners and high-schoolers played on a playground together. “And, they’re all kids at heart.”

Xavier students will be some of the first to walk across a graduation stage as the 2016-2017 school year comes to a close. High school graduation ceremonies in the Corridor are being held into early June. Here’s an area commencement schedule:

May 21

• Xavier High

• Mount Vernon High

• Solon High

May 24

• Metro High

May 25

• Washington High

May 26

• Jefferson High

May 27

• Kennedy High

• West High

• Prairie High

May 28

• City High

• Linn-Mar High

• Marion High

May 30

• Tate High

June 4

• Clear Creek Amana High

All of the school districts above begin next school year on Aug. 23.

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