On Tuesday, some 580 fifth-grade students from all five Culver City Unified elementary schools visited more than a dozen local college campuses. The logistically complex program required two dozen buses and a score of chaperones; it was completed with district administrative support and funding from the Culver City Education Foundation.
In May, some 560 eighth-grade students from the Culver City Middle School will participate in their own college field trip program.
According to Dr. Kim Indelicato, Linwood Howe principal, the idea of sending fifth graders on a college field trip began during the 2014 school year, her third year as principal of Linwood Howe Elementary School. She and two parents, Rebecca Williams and LaShon Rayford, and Mary Soto, executive assistant, CCUSD business services, were attending a women’s leadership conference.
A UCLA researcher presented a paper reporting that one major factor for first generation college students was how early they heard about college.
“The message the researcher had for the educators attending was expose students ‘early and often’ to the benefits of college,” Dr. Indelicato recalled. As she and the two parents reviewed the conference over dinner that evening, they brainstormed together.
“We basically came up with the idea of ‘let’s arrange college trips for our fifth graders. They’d enjoy it and it would get a good understanding of the importance of college,’” Dr. Indelicato said.
Dr. Indelicato noted that some colleges were initially skeptical about having fifth graders and the visits were a hit with the students and parents alike. Now, many colleges actively welcome the CCUSD fifth grade students.
Dr. Indelicato said that she felt strongly that students at all five CCUSD elementary schools should have this experience.
She and the parents approached the school board and the Culver City Education Foundation for financial support and got the go-ahead. While the district provides the buses, the CCEF pays for all the other costs. All students receive custom T-shirts and notebooks to bring on the field trip. Last year’s eighth-grade shirts read “I’m College Bound, CCHS Class of 2022.” In addition, fifth grade students get three-ring spiral binders with inserts listing the required courses for eligibility to attend California colleges.
According to Melanie Mack, CCEF Executive Director, “The college field trip program is an excellent example of how a trial project at one school can grow to a successful district-wide program with the cooperation of the district and the Ed Foundation. It is another wonderful program in our schools that wouldn’t be possible without private donations to CCEF.”
James T. Harris
Dr. Kim Indelicato, Linwood Howe Principal, holding a banner from her alma mater, Ball State University in Indiana.