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Katy Seniors Graduate Full Circle with Kindergarten Principal


May 24, 2022

By Natalie Cook Clark

Education comes full circle this week for a group of Seven Lakes High School seniors. They opened Katy’s Stanley Elementary School as kindergartners with one principal and now will graduate high school with their same, original principal.

Principal Kerri Finnesand and her graduating seniors she's known since kindergarten at Stanley Elementary. Photo credit: KISD

From Kinder to Graduate

Principal Kerri Finnesand opened Stan and Patsy Stanley Elementary in 2009. Over the years she’s continued to serve the District and is now the head Principal at Seven Lakes High School. This week she will graduate 82 seniors, who she first met as kindergartners in 2009.

A Full-Circle Moment

This special story brings a group of Katy students full circle in their academic journey as they celebrate their first and last principal.

“This has been a full-circle moment for me,” says Seven Lakes High School Principal Kerri Finnesand. “It’s really awe-inspiring knowing what these young men and women have accomplished, that they have become, and what they aspire to achieve.”

This senior class were freshman the year Finnesand became the principal at Seven Lakes High School. She has watched them go from 5-year-olds at Stanley Elementary to captain of the Boy’s Soccer Team that took SLHS to the state tournament, Mr. Seven Lakes and the Prom King, many SLHS varsity basketball, volleyball, and football players (including the captain,) student trainers, lead roles in theatrical and musical productions with band, choir, and theatre, accomplished artists, excel academically, and more accomplishments.

Together they share memories from Stanley Elementary, including the involvement of the namesakes Stan and Patsy Stanley.

Now KISD Board of Trustee Member Rebecca Fox, Patsy Stanley, Stan Stanley, and Kerri Finnesand. Photo credit: Rebecca Fox

Establishing Traditions

“When you open a school, you establish all the ‘firsts’ and traditions for years to come,” explains Finnesand. “I loved every Friday because Stan and Patsy (Stanley) came to school and visited lunches.”

Finnesand explains how the Stanleys were like rock stars to the kids and they would sign lunch boxes, backpacks, shirts, etc.

“Watching them with the kids, and those Friday lunch visits will always be special to me,” says Finnesand.

Her favorite thing will always be watching the students do what they do best. “I will always love watching them perform and compete doing things they are so passionate about,” says Finnesand. “They are talented, kind, caring, compassionate, and intelligent human beings.”

Katy ISD is unique in the care they take into naming their schools after namesakes that demonstrate characteristics anyone would wish for their students. Stan and Patsy Stanley exhibit all the traits the District and Katy parents want in Stanley Elementary students and beyond.

Kerri Finnesand recalls her words from a speech she gave when opening Stanely Elementary 13 years ago.

“I wrote about a ‘hero’ and how every meaning of that word defined Stan Stanley. That is who he was,” says Finnesand. “He was a hero to me.”

Stan Stanley passed away in 2016 after a living a life of service dedicated to education, community, and family. His legacy lives on with his wife, Patsy and Stanley Elementary.

“Patsy continues to be my cheerleader,” says Finnesand. “Her opinion and support mean the world to me.”

Patsy Stanley praises Kerri Finnesand and how her leadership has led to a successful school both at Stanley Elementary and Seven Lakes High School, as well as leading these graduating seniors toward success.

“She is respected by parents, teachers, administration, office staff, PTA, and students,” says Stanley. “Her gentle but firm words and body language exude authority.”

'Rock Star' Support and Advice

And their namesake is still giving “rock star” support to these students. Patsy Stanley wishes the best for the graduating seniors that can celebrate this unique story of having their first and lost principal being Kerri Finnesand.

“Stan planted seeds… each of these graduates will go out and be seed planters just as Stan did,” says Stanley. “And the ripple effect will continue!”

She challenges all former and future Stanley Elementary graduates to follow the example set by Stan and plant seeds of excellence and to always remember, “You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can never count the apples in a seed.”

“Lead, don’t follow,” advises Finnesand. “I want them to work hard, and play hard. I think students today don’t take time to just be kids, and that is so important.”

Finnesand always hopes that students leave Seven Lakes High School as happy, well-rounded young adults who are equipped to accomplish anything.

“I’m just blessed that I got to be there along for these students,” says Finnesand. “These are the ‘why’ moments for why I became an educator.”


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