Kindergarteners at West Elementary committed to the Knoxville Class of 2032 during the district’s first-ever Kindergarten Signing Day.

This year, each kindergartener in the Knoxville School District signed a certificate committing themselves to the class of 2032. The certificates were also signed by the student’s teacher, as well as building Principal Ryan Klein.

After signing the certificate, the students were then photographed with their teacher and principal in front of a Knoxville Panther backdrop.

Klein and Tyler Pearson, Technology Integration Coach at West and Northstar Elementary, say they came up with the idea after listening to Joe Sanfelippo speak at the beginning of the school year. Sanfelippo, a superintendent in Wisconsin, does a signing day with new staff members in his district. This idea helped spark the creation of Kindergarten Signing Day in Knoxville.

Klein says that Kindergarten Signing Day is about building panther pride in students right away and to help build a collective commitment to graduating in 2032.

Even though the kindergartens might not remember the moment in years to come, they are able to look back at their signing day photo when they are juniors and seniors to see how much they’ve grown and changed throughout their time attending Knoxville Schools.

“When you graduate, you think of just high school, but it took a lot of people and a lot of steps to get to where they’re at,” Klein said. “So it’s just one of those moments that we create for them so they can look back and see where they came from, too.”

Pearson added that signing day is not just for the students, but the parents as well.

“We thought what a great moment for parents at graduation,” he said. “That’s a picture you can blow up and put as part of a graduation slideshow, showing here’s signing day as a kindergartener to graduation day.”

Kindergarten Signing Day has already received tremendous feedback from the community. The photos of signing day were posted to West Elementary’s Facebook page and have already been viewed over 12,000 times.

After posting the photos on a Friday afternoon, Pearson says people started sharing the post all throughout the weekend and he was able to watch it grow. He says it is crazy to think how deep people dove into the concept and engaged with the post.

“That’s been neat to see, too,” Klein said. “It’s something that we’re proud of that we got to do signing day, but I would say parents, grandparents and family members spread these pictures out so other family members that are not even affiliated with the district have a chance to see them and see what that panther pride, that comment, that building of what we’re trying to do with our school and without community is a good, positive thing.”

Pearson says people are already asking to do a similar event for graduation each year, having students sign to show their commitment to attending trade school, college or start working in a business after graduating. The district is hoping to continue this idea for future projects.

The positive support from staff, family and members of the community have ensured that Kindergarten Signing Day will continue on in the future.

“I think that speaks to how neat it is and how it does build panther pride and community and does give families that moment in time,” Klein said. “I think it’s just a neat concept.”

Emma Skahill can be reached at or by calling the newsroom at 641-842-2155.

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