I am looking for a word or phrase to describe students at a K-12 school who have attended this same school the whole time from kindergarten through 12th grade. The first of these students will be graduating from our school soon, and referring to them as "long-term students" or "early adopters" doesn't work well to get the meaning across. Thank you for any help you can give.

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    You mean like how we call somebody who works for the same company for their entire working career a lifer?
    – tchrist
    Aug 5, 2017 at 17:49
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    I think you're talking about the school's inaugural class--the first students to enter the school. Some have attended only this school. Others may have attended and returned. Some of them started with Kindergarten. I know of no single word.
    – Xanne
    Aug 5, 2017 at 18:33
  • The first class to go full spectrum at the school.
    – Davo
    Aug 7, 2017 at 21:59
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    @dangph "black humour" is the perfect term, thanks. You're right about the lack of context too. As it happens I have mixed feelings about my school years, but I'm still generally in favour of schools as a concept. Aug 8, 2017 at 8:57
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    At my school they were members of the 13-year club.
    – Riccati
    Sep 27, 2017 at 20:58

5 Answers 5


"Lifer" is the common term used at many K-12 private schools in Virginia. Based on a quick check of available yearbooks, I can confirm it has been in use since the 1970's. I'd really never thought of it having a negative connotation before reading some of the comments here. The kids are proud to be "lifers" and do not think it a disparaging term.

A quick search on the website of The Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia yielded many examples, including this description of an alumna receiving an award: "Cathy is a Collegiate lifer. Her daughters Carolyn ‘12, Frances ’14, and Julia ’17 are lifers as well." https://www.collegiate-va.org/page/news-detail?pk=824643


tchrist's comment on "lifer" got me thinking, would "lifer student" work? Granted that wording seems to be very uncommon and would likely require further explanation, but I did Google it and surprisingly a result came up that describes the same kind of students in your post: http://www.nuevaschool.org/news/upper-school-news/1869-lifer-dinner-2017

  • "Life student" might be slightly more natural than "lifer student", although I'm not sure either would work without reasonable context.
    – TripeHound
    Aug 8, 2017 at 9:01
  • When I hear “life/lifer student”, I think of someone who is continually learning new things and is actively seeking new information throughout their lives (regardless of schooling).
    – iMerchant
    Oct 7, 2017 at 8:56
  • It honestly doesn't work. it more suggests someone who (endlessly) does degrees, post graduate degrees, business degrees etc. indeed, it's something like "lifetime learning". (A political concept that was briefly popular in the US when unemployment was high.)
    – Fattie
    Jan 5, 2018 at 15:24

...students at a K-12 school who have attended this same school the whole time from kindergarten through 12th grade...

Unfortunately there simply is not such a term. (This is often the correct answer on SWRs; there's nothing wrong with a null result.)

Commentor @Riccati gave an excellent suggestion...

"13-year students"

I doubt we'll find something better.

"Graduating this year we have 202 students, and I am proud to announce that 91 of them were 13-year students here at East High! Go Wildcats!"


original (Oxford)


Present or existing from the beginning; first or earliest.

Edgar is one of our original students here at Woebegone Elementary School.

  • For me an 'original student' would be one who joined the school when it opened not, necessarily, one who spent all their school years there. Alternatively it might mean a student who exhibited original thought or great creativity.
    – BoldBen
    Aug 6, 2018 at 6:45

I believe the proper title for the students would be "alumni" for a group of students, alumnus which is defined as male and alumnae defined as a former female student.

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    (1) Calling students “alumni” as they’re graduating is a bit of a stretch (and calling them “alumni” before they graduate is just plain wrong). (2) This seems to miss the point of the question, which is to find a term that excludes students who transferred into this school from another.  “Alumni” would include transfer students, as long as they graduated from this school. Aug 6, 2017 at 22:50

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