Crayons to College and Career is in its second year thanks to a renewal of a Calhoun Intermediate School District grant. This means the ABCs of Character is back in our elementary school.

“In the education world right now there is a lot of talk about how it’s a students’ mindset that makes them successful,” said Kyra Rabbitt, creator of the Crayons to College and Career program. “Our program focuses on those skills at an early age.”

Every week there is a different trait, starting with “A for Attitude”. Every class, from preschool to fifth grade, studies that trait through books and discussions.

“Students often bring the traits up when we’re working and going about our day,” first-grade teacher Amy Doyle said. “They are being introduced to vocabulary and concepts that are important life-long.”

St. Philip High School students read to our St. Joseph Elementary School students about Nutrition, that week’s character trait.

Even our high school students took a turn teaching. When the elementary students came to St. Philip for Mass during Catholic Schools Week, high school students read books and led activities on “N for Nutrition”.

On Friday, every teacher nominates a student from their class who best exemplifies that week’s trait.

“My third-grade students love learning about the ABC’s of character,” third-grade teacher Patti Kuenzel said. “They get so excited on Friday to hear who will represent the character trait we’ve been learning about that week. They always clap for the person who is announced.”

Mrs. Doyle noticed this enthusiasm too.

“They cheer each other on and often comment about how they notice those characteristics in a particular student,” Mrs. Doyle said.

This support of one another is one of the program’s quieter success stories.

“We are teaching kids at an early age to celebrate each other’s successes,” Mrs. Rabbitt said. “Sometimes students get too focused on the competition piece of academics. This program is about celebrating each other.”

Each nominated student receives a certificate and has their photo on the Crayons for College and Career wall. They also are entered to win one of ten $100 college scholarships, a lottery that takes place at the program’s end-of-the-year celebration.

These are just a few of this year’s character Crayons to College and Career nominees.

It’s a big deal, and our students know it. Just ask Jeanine Winkler, St. Joseph administrative assistant and the woman Mrs. Rabbitt credits for making the program a reality.

“When I am not able to, for whatever reason, announce that week’s letter, the students come and remind me,” Mrs. Winkler said. “They are excited to be set aside from the others that week, and they are excited to join those that have been set aside prior. I like to see the joy the kids are getting out of it.”

Scholarships can go to the student’s 529 college savings plan or be held by the BCACS Foundation until graduation.

On March 15 at 6 pm in the St. Joseph cafeteria, Crayons to College and Career is hosting a College Savings Night for parents. Representatives from the Kellogg Community Credit Union will share how 529s and other college savings plans work, as well as how to set them up correctly.

It’s important for parents to start saving because college is on our elementary students’ minds.

“I heard some students say they wanted to have their name put in the drawing so they can have a chance to win a scholarship to help them go to college,” Mrs. Kuenzel said.

Everyone here at the BCACS Blog would like to congratulate the Crayons to College and Career nominees, from “Attitude” to “Perseverance and Problem-solving”. Checkout Facebook on Tuesdays, where the remaining nominees will be posted weekly.

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