HANFORD — Many educators believe it is never too early for students to plan for college and officials at Lakeside Union Elementary School District agree.

For the month of August students are taught what it takes to succeed in college and a career and participate in rallies and activities to motivate them for the school year.

“We advocate lifelong learning in everything we do here,” said Superintendent/Principal Cindi Marshall. “It is part of who we are.”

Marshall said each teacher picks a university or college for their class and teaches students different facts about it. She said students learn about scholarships, tuition cost, location, what it is known for, how to apply and more.

Some of these colleges include UCLA, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Stanford, Yale and California State University, Fresno.

Marshall said the eighth-grade class specifically requested Fresno State since they take a field trip to the college every year.

“Each classroom has a university tied to it,” she said. “[Students] really buy into that.”

On Mondays during August, students wear their university colors to show their spirit. Marshall said some parents purchased college shirts to send their kids to school in.

“We also have created a university shirt that students and staff purchase,” she said.

Classrooms also have flags to go with the university they picked.

“If the class has perfect attendance that day they can hang their university flag outside,” Marshall said.

Marshall said the district implemented the college push after receiving a school improvement grant in 2010. She said the district serves a large majority of students who come from low-income families and may not know what paths are available after high school.

“We are trying to prep them as much as possible,” she said. “They learn about new universities each year.”

Marshall said a lot of teachers talk about their own college experiences in their classroom and what they did to succeed.

“We all went to college,” she said about her staff. “We share our own story with our kids and tell them they can do it if they set their mind to it.”

As the push for college and career keeps growing, Marshall said they have started to bring in college graduate alumni of the school to speak at eighth-grade graduation to give students more motivation to succeed in high school.

“That is a huge deal for us,” she said.

This reporter can be reached at csandoval@hanfordsentinel.com or 583-2422. 

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