Harkness Vikings Conquer College

e-Connections Post H.W. Harkness

Harkness Elementary School’s 54 sixth-graders and their parents started their path to conquering college and creating opportunities and options for their futures recently with a tour of the University of California, Davis.

Working with UC Davis MESA, students worked on an engineering activity – building a small scale model windmill. While the sixth graders worked with the MESA team, parents learned about college costs and visited the dormitories. Principal Isabel Govea said her students were “so happy” to see college life in action, including eating in the dining hall.

Govea said her goal is to establish a college-going culture at the school but didn’t want to simply invest in college posters; she wanted something more memorable. Govea said she had wanted to provide opportunities for the school’s families to make the idea of going to college innate. When Student Support Coordinator Mishae Parker joined the school staff, they devised a plan to have every grade at the school participate in a college trip by next year.

“Closing the opportunity gap is critical to the success of our students,” Parker said. “This starts by taking steps that expose them to what’s possible, and keeping systems in place that afford these types of experiences.”

Each grade at Harkness will select a California college or university within a two-hour radius and learn about it during the year. Then each grade will visit the campus of their choice. Parents will also be asked to join the college visit. Govea credits Parker with organizing this year’s trip and setting out the plan for next year.

“I believe that if students and parents can be exposed to college life very early, then going to college is more likely to become reality for them because it is no longer a mystery,” Govea said. “We want all of our students and parents to know that they can conquer college.”