116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Princeton McKinney is proud of what he’s been able to accomplish at Elizabeth Tate High School — including finishing school early — and how he’s been able to support his family during a challenging year.
McKinney’s father was diagnosed with cancer and died in late February. While trying to finish school early, McKinney helped take care of his father while supporting his siblings and mother.
McKinney, 18, finished school Feb. 25, two days before his father passed away and well before the school’s last day of last Tuesday. He is one of 68 students who graduated Thursday from Tate High School at the Englert Theatre.
Thinking about what his father would have wanted him to do has pushed McKinney to work hard in pursuing his career as an electrician.
“He just said, ‘That's your dream, go do it.’ And so that's what I did,” McKinney said. “So now hopefully he sees me doing what I'm doing, and that he continues to support me from where he's looking down at me.”
He’s currently interviewing for an electrician apprenticeship program in Tiffin. He is also interested in learning about plumbing and construction in the future.
McKinney said the trades can sometimes be looked at as a field people don’t want to go into.
“Everyone sees it as ‘go to college, get an education,’” McKinney said. “Saying that is kind of saying that you don't get an education out of a trade. You learn a lot of life skills that college doesn't necessarily teach.”
McKinney grew up in Iowa City with his parents and siblings. He spent time at Iowa City High but said coming to Tate High School was “probably the best decision I’ve ever made.”
English teacher Michelle Curry said McKinney stands out due to his “kind and generous heart.” She said he was a voracious reader, constantly going to the library to pick up more books.
Among her classroom memories of McKinney, Curry said always enjoyed hearing him talk about his family.
“I just really felt privileged to get to have him in the classroom and get to be a part of his life,” Curry said.
McKinney was also on the basketball team after being encouraged by Kevin Koffron, basketball coach and physical education teacher.
Koffron said McKinney had an immediate impact on the basketball team due to his willingness to learn.
“I could always count on Princeton to be a team captain on the court and in the classroom,” Koffron said.
McKinney said what he’s looking forward to most after graduation is being able to provide for himself.
“Now I can take my own life in my own hands,” McKinney said.
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