Planting seeds for higher education
“Is college hard?”
“Do you have lunch?”
“Can you get in trouble with the principal?”
When kindergarteners go to college, the quest for knowledge starts with the basics.
Kindergarten kids from three schools in the Kent School District got answers to those and other questions Thursday when they and their teachers and parents visited the campus of the University of Washington Tacoma.
UWT students and administrators showed them around campus and talked to the children about what college is like.
The idea behind Kent’s Kinder-to-College program is to plant the seed early for higher education. The South King County kindergarteners have been visiting college campuses throughout the Puget Sound area. By the time the school year ends, nearly 900 kindergarteners and 200 parents will have taken part in the tours.
“Research tells us that kids start making decisions about school’s value and their future in the early grades,” said school district communications director Chris Loftis. “Though those decisions might not manifest themselves until middle and high school, we look at this program as just one of the many ways we are preventing drop-outs.”
On Thursday, Kent kindergarteners from Meadow Ridge, Soos Creek and Park Orchard elementary schools got a close look at the UWT library, science building and more. Each child wore a T-shirt with the words “Yes. I am college bound” and the year of their high school graduation: 2024.
Loftis administered the “college pledge” to students. They stood in a group, hands over hearts, and promised to work hard in school, listen to parents and teachers, graduate from high school and go to college.
“We have been doing a lot of goal-setting,” said Meadow Ridge teacher Rachelle Gasca. “After a visit to a college, it will be easier for them to set that goal.”
For some kids, the most interesting parts of the downtown campus were the stairways and handrails, which a few students seemed eager to transform into play equipment. Others couldn’t resist running their fingers along the books lining library shelves. A collection of insects mounted behind a science building display case fascinated others.
“Is that dead?” asked one boy, pointing to an oversized beetle.
Mekiah Samuel, a Park Orchard student, said she liked seeing the books in the library.
“I like to read. I like to do math,” said the girl who wants to be a police officer when she grows up.
For Jestin Matthews, a Soos Creek student, the best part of the day was simple: “I liked being on the yellow bus.”
Thursday was Jestin’s first time on a school bus, his mom, Michelle Matthews, confirmed.
“I think it’s awesome,” she said of the college tour. “I don’t know if he will understand why we’re here. But it will give us something to look forward to.”
Mekiah’s dad, Michael Samuel, said he was excited for his daughter to see how she could reach her goals. He said he hadn’t talked to her at home about college – yet.
“But I’m going to start talking to her,” he added.
Debbie Cafazzo: firstname.lastname@example.org