There are first-day traditions that are common to nearly all schools: assigning desks and lockers, passing out supply lists, and making sure students can find their way to the cafeteria and restrooms.
But Highland Park ISD has a unique tradition. On the first day of the fall semester, some of the district’s oldest students fan out to the four elementary schools and distribute T-shirts designed to remind kindergartners that they will likely be in the seniors’ shoes some day.
Before students in Paige Wright’s class at Hyer Elementary received their “Class of 2026” shirts Monday, principal Jeremy Gilbert introduced Superintendent Dawson Orr as “the guy that’s in charge of the whole place.” That prompted kindergartner Reid Stemberger to say, “I thought you were.”
Then, after seniors Jackson Foley, MacKenzie Johnson, Hogan Sauer, and Travis Warren began pulling T-shirts out of a box, Reid had a follow-up question: “You know what size we are?”
Administrators have had plenty of time to figure that out. The T-shirt tradition dates back at least 25 years. The seniors who came to Hyer on Monday said they remember receiving their “Class of 2014” shirts in the fall of 2001.
After joking that the new shirts could also be used as hats or capes, Foley told the kindergartners a little white lie to convince the tykes to put them on.
“They’re cool this year,” he said of the unchanging shirts. “Blue’s the new color.”
How would the kindergartners know otherwise? They’re new to the district. But 12 years from now, they can tell the same jokes.