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Administrators at John F. Kennedy High School organized a mega fieldtrip this week: They brought every freshman student – all 500 – on a college campus tour.
The JFK ninth graders visited Sacramento City College on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. While college visits are not uncommon for Sacramento City Unified School District high school students, this is the first time a large campus has ensured that every member of a class gets to see a college in action before graduation.
“We want every student to know that they can go to college if they choose,” said JFK Principal Chad Sweitzer. “No matter what academic achievement level or income level you’re at, there are opportunities open to you.”
On Wednesday, the teens arrived at the college’s Student Center to hear a fiery speech by SCC Vice President Michael Poindexter, who spoke passionately about the potential of each student to change the world. Poindexter asked the teens to look into the eyes of those sitting next to them.
“You are looking into the eyes of the next President of the United States of America!” he shouted to applause. Poindexter ended his remarks by asking the students to repeat “I am the best in the world!”
To students who are not working as hard as they should in high school, Poindexter admonished: “We need you to get to on board.”
Students also heard from SCUSD Superintendent Jonathan Raymond, who told them to plan their futures well before graduation. “I didn’t start thinking about college until the fall of my senior year, which was too late,” he said. “I want you to be ahead of the game.”
The fieldtrip is an outcome of an emerging partnership between SCUSD, Los Rios Community College District and California State University, Sacramento. Through the partnership, the organizations hope to demystify higher education and, ultimately, decrease the number of college students who need remediation in English and math.
During this week’s fieldtrips, students learned how to register for classes, apply for financial aid and meet college requirements -- information not always apparent to high school freshmen, said Sweitzer. They also learned about classes to take in high school to prepare for the rigors of college.
Too often, said Sweitzer, kids emerge from high school without the skills needed to be successful in higher education. “We want college students to tell our kids what they wish they had known when they were in high school,” Sweitzer said.
SCC Professor Josh Roberts told the teens that knowing how to write an essay isn’t enough. They need to know how to critically think about subjects so they can defend an argument. He asked them to commit to reading for 30 minutes every day.
Ed Mills, associate vice president of enrollment at CSUS, gave the students three tips for success. “Show up, be dedicated and have some fun,” he said. He also encourage the teens to think creatively.
“Most of the jobs all of you will have don’t exist today,” Mills said. “You are going to build the world you’re going to live in. What’s the next Apple? What’s the next Facebook? You guys are going to decide.”
For more information about John F. Kennedy High School, visit www.jfkcougars.net.