During American Education Week, kindergarten students in Dalton Public Schools got to practice what it felt like to be a graduating senior.
Every kindergarten-aged child in the system got to don either a red or white graduation gown and have their photo taken with DPS Superintendent Dr. Jim Hawkins. The students received a book “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!” by Nancy Carlson. Each student will also receive a copy of the photo with the Class of 2026 logo as a memento of the event. The photos are meant to promote the goal of graduating from high school and preparing for college and career, and the books encourage reading and literacy.
The children made their way carefully over to Hawkins with yards of extra fabric from the gowns billowing around their small frames. Mr. Hawkins greeted each child by asking their name, and explained what they would be doing in the photo.
“We’re playing dress up like you were a big senior in high school 12 years from now,” he would say. Mr. Hawkins would also tell the student that to get to that milestone, they would have to read many books.
“This goes with college career awareness,” said Mr. Hawkins. “It gets them actually thinking about graduation. You start at the beginning with the ending in mind.”
Six-year-old Brookwood student Charles Whittle said his graduation year of 2026 seems like a long way off, and he was a little nervous before taking the photo with Dr. Hawkins. “I was happy and nervous,” Charles said about getting his photo taken. “I felt like I was really graduating.”
Kindergarten teacher Dana Baxter said the earlier the kids start thinking about graduating, the better. “It’s a good way to plant that seed,” Ms. Baxter said. “They’ll have this photo as a reminder, ‘Oh, yes, I’m supposed to graduate.’”
Mr. Hawkins hopes that taking these photos will give students an end goal. “The best indicator as a school system is graduation numbers,” he said.