Tehama County 8th Graders Start Path Toward College



CORNING >> Tehama County’s eighth-graders were asked Thursday to look toward a future of educational opportunities beyond the high school diploma they will earn in 2019.


More than 620 eighth grade students are scheduled to take part in the second annual all-county 8th Grade Leadership Day hosted at Rolling Hills Casino here, a six-day event put on by College Options in Tehama County, Expect More Tehama and the county’s department of education.


On Thursday, students from Lassen View and Berrendos schools participated in workshops and activities that included a college-themed Jeopardy game, a dice game that illustrated what could happen if people leave their life up to chance and ended with students setting long-term education and career goals.


“Leadership Day is a day for eighth-graders to dream big and learn about what life can be like for them,” said Karissa Morehouse, College Options director, Tehama County.


The event, which was originally started by Berrendos Middle School, has expanded in the last two years to include all eighth-grade students in Tehama County.


Organizers have focused on eighth-graders in an effort to improve the college-going rate in a county where only about 13.5 percent of people age 25 or older living in the county have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Morehouse noted that the definition of college organizers were working under was any education after high school, including trade certificates.


“We’re trying to change the culture in our county,” she said. “When we say college, we’re talking about any training beyond high school.”


Morehouse said the event shows that students are leaders of their own lives, and also leaders at their schools and for others.


Some goals students set for themselves included attending Harvard University, UCLA and other universities.


“It’s amazing to me to see the progression of students every time we do this,” Morehouse said. “To watch those kids’ eyes open up and to think about their futures — every time that amazes me.”


Morehouse said the county-wide conversation about setting goals for college at the eighth grade level started about five years ago. Now, it’s a part of a student’s education.


“We have a lot of work to do still,” she said. “But I’m definitely seeing a shift, and I’m very hopeful.”


By Andre Byik, Published in the Red Bluff Daily News on 1/16/15

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