The mission of Atlanta Public Schools is to ensure that every student will graduate ready for college and career. The district celebrated that vow last week during “College and Career Motivation Week.”
Schools brought awareness to the weeklong initiative through a variety of activities.
At Peyton Forest Elementary School, students participated in an assembly created by Character County! Productions, an organization that has developed a series of highly educational and entertaining musical programs about character and its importance.
Character plays an important role in college and in the workplace, according to Peyton Forest Counselor Larissa Harvey.
“We want our students to start early understanding the purpose of having high character,” Harvey said. “We want them to start thinking now about college and their careers, and how lessons they learn now about the importance of character will contribute to their future success.”
At Benteen Elementary School, more than two dozen professionals from all walks of life visited with students throughout the day last Tuesday, giving them a glimpse into their lines of work. The vocations represented included an official from the United States Department of Administrative Services, a lawyer with The Cochran Firm, a psychologist, a professor from Spelman College, a performing artist specializing in African drumming, a product development scientist, and Damian “Da-Da” Lewis, an on-air and promotions personality for Streetz 94.5 FM, who showed students how a radio ad is created.
Towns Elementary School hosted the Atlanta Workforce Development Career Coach mobile unit, which gave parents an opportunity to work on their resumes, fill out employment applications and learn proper interviewing skills. Also during the week, school staff at “Tiger Town” wore paraphernalia from their college or university, and several college students stopped by and talked to Towns students about how they prepared for college and what the experience is like.
“This is important because it aligns with our mission of preparing students for college and career,” said Towns Elementary School Principal Dr. Dione Simon. “It is also important that we show them what college looks like and that they see that they can become anything they want to be. Having the college students here is great. I believe our students can connect with them better because they are closer to them in age. They can see themselves in these college students.”
At Connally Elementary School, a dozen City of Atlanta departments gave presentations on the role they play in helping the city function properly. The event, which was coordinated by the City of Atlanta Division of Watershed Management, featured officials from the police and fire departments, parks and recreation, corrections, public works, planning and law.
“Having this at our school serves two purposes,” said Connally Elementary School Principal Lincoln Woods. “This encompasses almost every career that is in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and we are a STEM school here at Connally. Also, it introduces our students to a diverse group of professions that can be found in city government in Atlanta. This instills a sense of community pride in our students to know that they can attain all of these various careers right in the city where they live.”
Benjamin E. Mays High School made it easy for their students to get plenty of one-on-one time with more than 40 college representatives when the school hosted a college fair on Friday solely for its students. Along with local and state schools like Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Georgia Gwinnett College, Albany State, Kennesaw State, the University of West Georgia, Wesleyan College, Emory University and Morehouse College, national institutions like Virginia Commonwealth University, The Ohio State University and Davidson College were represented as well. Additionally, the United States Marine Corps, the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) and Atlanta Job Corps also had representatives in attendance.
“We wanted to make sure we had a wide variety of options for our students,” said Mays High School College Advisor Victor Onukwuli. He said the event was primarily for juniors and seniors, but a number of sophomores and freshmen attended as well. “We wanted to have big schools, small schools, in-state, out-of-state, military and vocational organizations as well. We wanted to make sure our students know that no matter their situation or circumstance, there are options out there for them to help them better their lives after they graduate from high school.”