Austin-East High School seniors inspire younger students to graduate

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Students graduating from high school will soon be walking the stage at their commencement ceremonies to receive their diplomas. Seniors at Austin-East High School donned their caps and gowns to take a stroll down the hallways of Vine Middle School on Wednesday.

The purpose of their visit was to inspire a younger generation of students.

Cheers and applause rang through the halls at the graduating class passed by the classrooms at Vine Middle School. The graduates were getting recognition for their hard work, while also encouraging other kids to stay in school.

“High school is not the end. This gown, there is another one to come,” said Robert Higgins, a graduating senior at Austin-East High.

Higgins, 18, will be turning the tassel on his graduation cap this year. He wants to show middle schoolers why it’s important to get an education.

“I told them that they need to keep up their GPA all four years because it is something that is very important for colleges to look at,” said Higgins.

Eighth graders like Jack Ndayisenga felt empowered after listening to their advice.

“It motivates me to be where they are. I want to be like them. It pushes me to work harder,” said Ndayisenga.

Vine Middle teacher Sarah Lyle couldn’t be more proud of her former students.

“Having the opportunity to see them walk in their caps and gowns was really special,” said Lyle.

Lyle taught Higgins and his classmates while she was a teacher at Austin-East High School.

Higgins adds, “There’s always a teacher there to push me back on the path I need to be on and she definitely was one of those teachers.”

Now, Lyle is at Vine Middle School, preparing the younger generation for their next step in education. She says having support like this from the older students, is what helps them success in school and life.

“It was great to hear the students talk about GPAs, credits and applying to colleges because I think that sometimes when you’re 12 and 13 years old, that’s not necessarily what’s on your mind. It’s hard to see four years into the future,” said Lyle.

This is the first time that Vine Middle School has brought in these graduates to inspire younger generations of students. The school plans to do this every year from here on out to spark a tradition.

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