Eva Nemeth, a Niles High senior, helps put a Class of 2025 T-shirt on Ellis kindergartener Josslyn Mapes Wednesday morning at Ellis. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Archived Story

Seniors welcome kindergarteners to Niles

Published 1:01pm Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kindergarten students are quick to make friends.

So it wasn’t surprising that Ellis School kindergartener Bree Lake wrote “I love you” in crayon on a piece of construction paper and gave it to Niles High School senior Kristin McFadden — a girl she had just met 10 minutes earlier.

“My girl said she didn’t want me to go. She wanted me to stay all day,” NHS senior Hannah Porterfield said.

Scenes like these played out Wednesday morning throughout the Niles Community Schools district as seniors buddied up with kindergarten students at Ellis, Ballard, Northside and Eastside.

Each senior paired with one or two kindergarteners and welcomed them to the district. The seniors, wearing blue and gold Class of 2013 T-shirts, gave their kindergarten buddies matching blue and gold T-shirts with Class of 2025 written on the back.

Then they sang, or hummed, the school fight song before chatting for 15 to 20 minutes.

“We talked about the things they like to do and made stuff with Play-Doh,” NHS senior Haley Limville said. “It was fun. I hope we get to come back.”

The senior/kindergarten T-shirt exchange day is a first for Niles Community Schools.

Howard-Ellis Principal Michelle Asmus came up with the idea when she saw a small child wearing a Class of 2024 T-shirt while on vacation.

“My eyes were immediately drawn to it, so I asked the mom about it and she said, ‘our seniors gave it to our kindergarteners,’” Asmus said. “I thought it would be great to do it here.”

Asmus said the T-shirt day serves several purposes, including promoting school spirit during homecoming week and helping kindergarteners feel like they belong to something bigger.

“We can’t see enough blue and gold around Niles,” Asmus said.

Asmus also hoped it would conjure up some kindergarten memories in the senior students.

That was the case for Limville, a former Howard-Ellis student.

“It was fun to come back — everything seems a lot smaller than I remembered,” she said.

The district has 313 kindergarteners and 222 seniors.

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