The piercing grind of iron, the caboose rolls by. A school bus lumbers quickly down Highway 281 north after morning drop-offs. The supersonic boom of an airplane carries wayward passengers home or here for now. Each engine has a driver who has a destination, a particular goal in mind as they carry forth from A to B to Z.
Here at P16Plus Council of Greater Bexar County, we have many goals in mind to help support the educational success of the countless students we work with through our more than 100 partners in San Antonio. Whether it be helping to share tools for Kindergarten Readiness, improving academic success through attendance initiatives, or working with high school students in preparation for post-secondary education, we are dedicated to putting the student first.
When the calendar reads “April Fool’s Day,” we know there is no joke, and that while business as usual continues, there is a particularly special destination that we are aiming to reach – college. Destination College, from April 27 – May 1, is a week-long celebration of the college bound and career ready in San Antonio from elementary through high school and beyond. Monday the festivities kicked off at Café Commerce with a press conference and student research showcase.
In 2011, former Mayor Julián Castro joined hands with leaders in the college access community in order to dedicate a week, acknowledged by the City of San Antonio and all educational institutions, as a time to acknowledge the hard work and dedication that our students put forth in order to realize their greater aspirations as collegians. Here is a video promoting last year’s week of celebration:
In the spirit of collective impact – the foundation upon which P16Plus builds our educational success initiatives and partnerships – we acknowledge this week as a shining example of how partners come together, with their missions in mind, but the greater good of the students guiding their actions. As you can see from the vast array of organizational support and sponsorship through Mayor Ivy Taylor and the City of San Antonio, all facets of our educational community contribute to make this week an impressionable one for the future of our city.
We recognize that the vast range of our youthful academics starts with the precocious and ever-curious elementary aged, who require completely different resources than our middle-school or high-school aged students. Keeping this in mind, each day during the week of April 27 – May 1, is crafted specifically so that it caters to these populations. Take for example Elementary School Night and Middle School Night hosted by the Boys & Girls Club, which invites parents and families out to explore the ideas and pathways that will impact their young students on the path to college. Or the Career Block Party for high school students hosted by the Witte Museum, which sees more than 20 employers and organizations from across San Antonio who create dynamic presentations and interact with more than 350 students who are in the process of discovering what their passions look like in the real world (all are open to the public, so please register by clicking the above links).
These are only examples of the many events that are taking part during the week-long celebration, which also features themed days to create a wave of solidarity behind this acknowledgement, especially on the final day for the culminating event of College Signing Day. On this day, the entire city is encouraged to wear the college/university apparel of their choice to demonstrate their belief in the value of college, and to honor those who have decided to take the leap and make that important commitment in their lives.
Students will don their bright orange or burnt orange as they gather together with roughly 1,500 students at Laurie Auditorium for the final celebration (for this year), specifically geared to our seniors who have made their declaration for next year’s academic adventure. Last year this esteemed event garnered national attention as Michelle Obama launched her “Reach Higher” campaign, encouraging students to pursue their greatest aspirations.
P16Plus believes in the college-going message, and believes in the efficacy of Destination College to grow the college-going culture in our city. The importance of initiatives like this are amplified because we know that our college enrollment numbers are down at 48%, and only 21% of students are meeting college-ready SAT/ACT criteria in Bexar County. It is clear we still have a long road to tread.
It is important that we acknowledge our students and their greater academic dreams not just one week a year, but every day through the work that we do alongside the City of San Antonio and our countless and irreplaceable partners. Together, we will reach our destination.
*Featured/top image: Café Commerce President Peter French and P16Plus Facilitator & Youth Coordinator Adam Tutor (author) pose a photo at the 2015 Destination College kickoff event on Monday. Photo courtesy of SA2020.