Children from the Alder Elementary school send their thanks after visiting Linfield College on June 7 and 8. The goal of the visit was to inspire options for their future education.
Photo courtesy of Dan Preston
A group of 90 fifth-graders from the Alder Elementary School in Portland visited Linfield June 7 and 8 through the “I Have A Dream” Foundation – Oregon program. The school has the second highest rate of poverty in the state, according to Principal Paz Ramos in a 2011 video made by Linfield.
“I Have A Dream” aims to help low income students achieve success in school and ultimately go to college. Alder is the nation’s first “Dreamer School”—a unique model of the program that follows all students, and not just an individual class, through their academic progression until college.
During the visit, the students stayed in Mahaffey Hall. At night, they attended
a presentation on college preparation and had open gym time. The next day, the children took part in three class sessions: science experiments with the faculty of the Education Department, a talk on seeing the world as a college student by Linfield Center of the Northwest’s Jeff Peterson and finally small group discussions between the children, volunteers from the Linfield College Latinos Adelante (LCLA) and other “Big Dreamers,” graduates from a former Dreamer class.
In addition to hosting fifth-graders from Alder in 2011 and 2012, Linfield officially adopted Alder’s fourth-graders last February and will present T-shirts, banners and talks to their adoptees throughout the year. Furthermore, Linfield’s nursing seniors currently provide treatment to Alder students who have no access to a school nurse.
“We hope to be a part of changing the college-going rate in the Reynolds School District, and it would be nice if some of them decided to enroll here,” Dan Preston, vice president of enrollment services, said about his and Linfield’s goals for the ongoing program. Preston once attended college with Ramos, who is a 1984 Linfield graduate.
Linfield’s student coordinator of the Alder Elementary visit, Crystal Galarza, also found the experience to be impactful.
“Because of Mr. Ramos, these kids know what year they will graduate. I don’t think I would have thought of that at their age,” Galarza said. Galarza is a mentor to the LCLA. A large portion of students in the LCLA come from similar backgrounds as the Alder students and can relate to them on many levels.
Eureka Foong/ For the Review