Canyons kindergarteners look ahead to college

Higher education • Superintendent David Doty encourages class to dream big.
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Sandy • When you are a kindergartner, trying envision what your plans will be 13 years down the line is pretty close to impossible.

Heck, thinking about plans 13 days from now is a stretch.

But Sprucewood Elementary students got a glimpse into what many hope will be their future earlier this month during the Canyons' School District's annual Kindergarten College-Ready Day.

The Class of 2025 was greeted by teachers, faculty members and district Superintendent David Doty, each dressed in their college graduation gowns, and participated in a show-and-tell presentation in which they told classmates what they wanted to be when they grow up.

"I know college probably seems like a long ways away right now," said Doty, donning his BYU graduation gown, which one student thought was a cape. "But it's really not that far away. You will become a grown-up faster than you think."

Cathy Graham's class of 24 kindergartners was one of 29 participating district-wide in the fourth annual event. Each student received a blue bracelet with an inscription that included "Class of 2025."

Jennifer Toomer-Cook, Canyon's chief external communications officer, said the bracelet is a small token, but plays much bigger for the group of 5- and 6-year olds.

"The first year we did it was 2009 for the Class of 2022," Toomer-Cook said. "And they are still wearing those bracelets. They help plant the seeds now so they get the message."

Graham, whose students think of college as "school for grown-ups," wore her red graduation gown from Florida Southern.

She said the emphasis on pursuing higher education doesn't stop after the one-day celebration. It will be an emphasis throughout the school year.

"We've been talking about it all week," Graham said. "When you come to kindergarten, you are making your first step toward going to college. We talk about it all year, as far as what you want to be when you grow up, and how school makes you smarter and gets you ready for college."

Doty read a Curious George book to the class and engaged students in discussion about attending college. During the show-and-tell presentation, students stuck mostly to the childhood script.

Tyler wants to be a pilot. Carly was one of many who wants to help animals as a veterinarian. Kingston plans to be a baseball player, for the Bees, of course.

Graham, though, said the answers aren't always quite so plausible.

"Some are a ninja and some are a princess," Graham said. "There's some out-there ones. My philosophy is if that's what they want to be at 5, I'm not going to tell them no, they can't be a ninja."

It's that sort of "magical thinking" that Tamra Baker, Sprucewood's director of school performance, loves about her profession.

It's also why Baker thinks the College-Ready Day is so important for the young students.

"We want to set high expectations for kids who come into our schools right at the beginning," Baker said. "We see some aggressive support from the governor and others in the community to have students prepared to enter college and careers when they leave us. That starts here. That starts today.

"We know the students love this. They may not understand the entire scope of it, but we want them to know we believe in them."

Twitter: @sltribSouth —

Starting early

Canyons School District held its fourth annual Kindergarten College-Ready Day at 29 elementary schools throughout the district earlier this month.

Sprucewood Elementary in Sandy received a visit from district Superintendent David Doty, who read a book to a group of 24 students and talked about the importance of going to college.

Students received bracelets inscribed with "Class of 2025" on them, and participated in a show-and-tell presentation in which they shared with classmates what profession they will choose to pursue.