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MailTribune.com
  • Phoenix Elementary students show college spirit

    The school is part of No Excuses University, a program trying to instill college ambitions in every student
  • PHOENIX — Each classroom at Phoenix Elementary School has adopted a college, knows the school's fight song and wears its colors on Friday.
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  • PHOENIX — Each classroom at Phoenix Elementary School has adopted a college, knows the school's fight song and wears its colors on Friday.
    But the school spirit isn't just about having a good time. It's part of a No Excuses University program the school has joined to help create the mindset among its students that college is a realistic goal and to start the preparation for a successful college experience.
    "It's hard to motivate a kid if he doesn't know why he has to do it," Principal Jeff Carpenter said.
    Tying learning to college attendance can help supply the motivation for the 370 students at the school.
    Carpenter was joined by now-Superintendent Teresa Sayre of the Phoenix-Talent School District, six teachers and two classified employees at an NEU institute in the summer of 2012, as they thought the program might fit well with existing efforts.
    Another group of five went to the fall 2012 NEU conference. Phoenix Elementary started to implement NEU strategies a year ago even before it was accepted into the program. Its application was approved in March.
    No Excuses University offers trainings but has no dues. Schools are selected for their potential, according to NEU's website. Each year, schools take part in a reapplication process and 150 are selected to participate.
    A map in the "college hall" leading to the Phoenix Elementary media center pinpoints the colleges that the school's teachers graduated from. There are college pendants hanging from the ceiling and posters on the walls with pictures of students as graduates of college classes from 2025 to 2030.
    This month, the students are learning about responsibility. They explore a daily question on the subject and study a person each week who exemplifies the quality. They'll also study trustworthiness, respect, caring, fairness and citizenship.
    Students from Dan Preskenis' combined fourth- and fifth-grade class talked about responsibility Friday.
    "When someone gets in trouble, they can't give excuses. They have to take responsibility for what they did," student Carson Joe said. Carson said he would like to play sports at the college level and knows good behavior would relate to that goal.
    Student Martin Scala says responsibility plays into challenging learning situations.
    "You don't really say 'I can't.' You just think about it. You give it a chance," Martin said.
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