Last Tuesday was a special night at CI Kids, observing a rite of passage for our 5th-grade class. 5th-grade graduation is a milestone for CI kids and a chance for us to celebrate as a community.

Youth leaders serve in every CI Kids classroom helping teachers, leading small groups, and serving as role models. They move up with their class from year to year, building strong relationships with the kids. Our CI Kids students know that they will have the opportunity to become youth leaders when they enter middle school.

“I love the leadership model at CI Kids! It shows our elementary students that the natural next step for them is to become a leader. When they see their siblings and neighbors serving as leaders, kids are empowered to see themselves as leaders too,” says Renee Meyer, CI Kids Director.

At the 5th-grade graduate celebration, parents are invited to join the evening and each graduate is announced and cheered onto the stage. Their individual strengths are shared, they are presented with a Bible, and a scripture of blessing is read (a verse that is specifically selected for each student by their teacher). All of CI Kids applauds the graduate as they exit by running through a tunnel of youth leaders.

When the ceremony is finished, the younger kids go to their classrooms for end of year parties. The graduates enjoy a special meal with their parents including a graduation cake.

“When I was younger it meant a lot me to see youth leaders in my classroom. They weren’t that much older than me, but I looked up to them. It was inspiring to me that they came every week and I knew they really cared about me.

I’ve been a youth leader for six years now. I love moving up with my class each year. The kids are so much fun! I think having positive role models is very important. As a youth leader, I’m showing kids what’s possible for them,” says CI Youth Leader Zahria.

This year’s class of budding leaders is excited to come back to CI Kids in the fall and serve as youth leaders.

“I’m so proud of each of our 5th graders! They are such a resilient and boisterous group of students. I expect great things from them stepping into youth leadership next year,” says Renee.