With the second semester well underway, we thought it would be interesting to follow a senior around on their last lap of high school. In particular, a college-bound one who would be blazing a trail in their family. A couple of years ago, we rode along with a busful of “first gens” from North High School when they went to Iowa City for a campus visit day trip at the University of Iowa.

With that experience in mind, we approached North first for help in finding just the right student for the series of features we envision, one that will effectively pick up where that earlier story left off and get down to the business of college application, acceptance, financing and celebration.

It didn’t take long for our case in point to surface.

Meet Victor Kiiza.

“Let me express my gratitude for being considered a part of something big at our school,” he said when asked if he’d agree to let us intrude on a critical stage of his new life. “I am more than happy to be the focus in your story.”

Our first impression is that he’s more than happy about things in general. His ready grin and upbeat attitude reminded us of someone else we met at North. Sure enough, Victor’s will pick up where a second story from North left off.

Victor and family arrived in America just as the 2017-18 school year began. The African-born Polar Bear has been acclimating ever since he arrived.

“North is diverse in every corner of the building,” Victor told us when we asked what’s best about it. “People love each other here. There are great staff who genuinely care about our success.”

Last year, Victor was among a contingent of North students who took part in an extraordinary field trip, to Minneapolis for the musical Hamilton. It had a welcoming impact on him.

“Looking back in the United States Constitution, immigrants helped to build and grow this country economically and politically,” he said. “Such as Hamilton helping alongside our (emphasis added) Founding Fathers to build the (country) that we know today.”

When he was 12, Victor labored at a rock quarry to earn fees for uniforms and supplies at the school in the camp where he was raised. Now he puts in his hardest work at school because his family instilled in him the importance of education. He plans to study biology/pre-med and political science, and play soccer, in college.

Victor’s been accepted for admission at Grand View University here in Des Moines, the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Central College in Pella and Simpson College in Indianola. Now comes the harder part: figuring out financing.

We’re going to follow along throughout that process and take monthly peeks at Victor’s unique strain of senioritis. Like him, we’re looking forward to soccer season in the springtime.

“The answer to your question begins and ends with Victor,” said North principal Ben Graeber when he first heard what we were looking for. “He is resilient, kind, and driven. He is an outstanding young man.”

To which North counselor Trent Griggs added, “I concur on Victor. His drive since being here has been nothing short of amazing and refreshing for me as an educator.”

They feel like they know him pretty well. Many people at North do. By the time Victor graduates on May 24, so may the rest of us.

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