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College stressed in Keyes
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Although they are years from applying for admissions, students at Keyes Elementary School are already thinking ahead to college.

To promote college awareness and give the students the mentality that college is a possibility for their future, Keyes Elementary began a higher education awareness campaign two years ago where each classroom is assigned a college. During a College Kick Off "tailgate" party held Friday, each classroom got to share a college chant and sport their college attire. Students donned T-shirts or carried pennants symbolizing their class' adopted college and enjoyed a spirited sparring cheer competition. Schools represented included Harvard, Michigan State, Texas State, Notre Dame, University of Hawaii, Stanislaus State and Fresno State.

Keyes Principal Cynthia Schaefer said her school is stressing to all students that college can be a reality if they "work hard and staying in school."

The Keyes campus is in the process of joining the No Excuses University (NEU) network of schools across the country which have stepped up and renewed their commitment to make sure every child meets or exceeds grade-level standards. In keeping with the spirit of the program, each school involved adopts the pledge: "We are committed to creating a school that knows no limits to the academic success of each student."

According to the website maintained by Turn Around Consulting, LLC, the company that offers No Excuses University: "Educators at No Excuses Universities believe they have the power to influence every student, even those who are most at-risk, to be as academically successful as students from more affluent communities. That is a radical concept, but No Excuses Universities are making it a reality every day."

Classes have adopted a specific university with which to identify. Each day outside the classroom door, teachers fly that class' university flag, and students are encouraged to wear university T-shirts. Each class also will attempt to gain the support of that University's alumni.

Emphasis will be placed this school year on the importance of elementary students realizing a purpose for education and being prepared for college should they choose to attend.

Parents are being asked to talk to their children daily about their day and also to encourage them to excel in school work. Schaefer said she believes parents want the best for their children. Between them and teachers, she said, students will receive positive reinforcement and believe that they are capable of whatever they want in life.

In the classroom, students will be discussing the value of education and personal goal setting.