Approximately 300 Kokomo High School seniors donned their caps and gowns nine days before graduation with one goal in mind: inspiring elementary school students to achieve their dreams.

Kokomo High School officials organized the first-ever “Kat Walk” at all 7 Kokomo School Corporation elementary schools, as well as the Darrough Chapel Early Learning Center Head Start program. Seniors from the KHS Class of 2017 dispatched in four groups to the eight buildings, where they walked through the halls – accompanied by a drum line and several color guard members – and greeted their elementary school friends.

“We wanted to celebrate with our elementary school students, and show them what 13 years of hard work looks like,” KHS Principal Angela Blessing explained. “Our KHS seniors were very excited to meet with these young students and share what it means to wear the red and blue gown and graduate from Kokomo High School. The Kat Walk also was a great opportunity for the Class of 2017 to say ‘thank you’ to the teachers who helped support them along their journey through Kokomo Schools. Many of our seniors requested that they walk at the elementary school they attended.”

At Elwood Haynes Elementary, students waited in the hallways with handmade signs welcoming the soon-to-be graduates. The signs were scrawled with messages, such as “Way to go graduates,” “Nice Job Class of 2017,” and “Happy Graduation.” As the KHS Class of 2017 paraded through the elementary school, some of the high school students paused to offer high fives to the young Wildkats, while others smiled and waved.

At Wallace Elementary School of Integrated Arts, the KHS seniors joined their young friends in the Wallace outdoor bandstand for a dance party to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”

Many Bon Air Elementary School students painted red and blue paw prints on their cheeks as they awaited the arrival of the KHS seniors. Bon Air teachers also printed name cards representing every KHS senior who would walk the Bon Air halls that day. As the seniors walked through, Bon Air students – and several teachers – waved the name cards in celebration. The gesture left a few KHS students in tears, as others stopped for photos with the children holding their name cards.

In one Bon Air hallway, the elementary school students chanted, “We want the Wildkats… We want the Wildkats,” as they heard the drum line approaching.

“This Kat Walk was such a great idea,” Bon Air Elementary Principal Paula Concus explained. “It was so wonderful. Our teachers were excited. Our students were excited, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We take our students to visit college campuses throughout the school year to help them think about their future goals and dreams. The Kat Walk was the perfect way to end the school year because it shows our students the first step to achieving those goals and dreams, which is to earn their Kokomo High School diploma, just like the KHS seniors they met during the Kat Walk.”

Mrs. Blessing knew this event would be special, but the first-ever Kat Walk exceeded her highest expectations. Mrs. Blessing added that all KHS seniors were very excited to participate. The senior walk featured several graduates with special needs, as well as many students in the Twilight Alternative Program… who take classes at night but made a special trip to KHS during the day to participate in the event.

“This has been so much fun,” Mrs. Blessing concluded. “I’m glad our KHS seniors felt that way, too. One student said this was the highlight of their senior year.”

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