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Step Up University

<span style="font-family: Arial;"><span style="font-size: 11px;"><span style="font-size: 12px;">A new program at Washington-Jackson Elementary encourages students to start thinking about college earlier in life.</span></span></span>
With all the college collectables lining the walls, you might think you're at a sports store, but this is no store, it's the new look at Washington-Jackson Elementary.

Students there are learning more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic; they're also learning the importance of a college degree.

"Elementary is for big dreams and to think big," said Amy Janjgava, the Inclusion Facilitator at Washington-Jackson, "If you wait until you get into high school to start thinking about college, it's too late because the foundation starts in elementary."

At the start of the school year, the teachers at the elementary school started a new program called Step Up University.

It teaches college isn't just a good idea, but it should be the goal of all students regardless of background.

"Everyone has an excuse of 'well I can't, because I don't have the money or my parents didn't go'," said Crystal Mariconda, a 5th Grade Science Teacher, "I'm not going to accept that, and neither should they."

By thinking about college now, teachers said students can start thinking about which classes they'll need and which school to attend.

5th grader Cameron Whitehead wants to go to TCU, "I wanna be a lawyer, so I can fight for justice."

Cameron's classmate, Monique McClanahan, also wants to be a lawyer, "because I want to help people who need to get out of trouble if they got blamed for something that they didn't do."

Under Step Up, even Pre-k and Kindergarteners are encouraged to plan for college.

The Step Up University doesn't just teach kids the idea college is the next step in the education process, but it also helps them take that idea outside of the classroom and back into the community."

"Part of where we would like this to go is to help outreach into the community," said Special Education Resource teacher Brianne Hirsch, "so that the parents, if they would like to, can get their GED and enroll themselves in college."

By reaching kids early in life, and their parents, the hope is to one day have an entire graduating class earn college degrees which, in turn, would raise the bar for future generations.
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