PERU — Many students reach their senior year of high school and still don’t know what they want to do next. It’s for that reason, said Bob Stuart from the College Readiness and Aspirations Program, that helping youngsters learn about college as early as third grade is important.

Stuart, with the support of the Western Foothills Kids Association, wrapped up a weeklong program of 45-minute presentations for all third- through sixth-graders in Regional School Unit 10’s elementary schools.

“I get kind of discouraged when I talk to seniors, particularly boys, who don’t know what’s next,” he said. “A lot of adults ask me why I’m speaking to third-graders.”

Stuart’s final talk was Friday afternoon to the third-grade classes of Sarah Johnson and Debra Towle at Dirigo Elementary School. Throughout the week, he delivered his message that all students can go to college if they work hard and put in the effort.

He said such well-known performers as Taylor Swift and L’il Wayne began writing poetry and writing songs between the ages of 6 and 10.

“Some people say they don’t know (at younger ages) what they want to study. But it’s great to change your mind,” he said.


The important thing is to work hard and know that you can go to college, he said.

“I absolutely guarantee that each and every one of you in this room can go to college,” he said. “I also know that some people will tell you that you can’t, that you’re not smart enough, that you don’t have enough money.

“It’s all about effort,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether you are a genius or not.”

Brooke Dolloff, a local woman who is a sophomore at Lyndon State College in Vermont, told third-graders that she lives on campus and has to cook her own food and do her own laundry.

“I was homesick at first, but then I made new friends,” she said.

Stuart said if a student doesn’t like the college he or she has chosen, another can be selected.


“If you have doubts about going to college, sit down with your teacher and talk about it,” Stuart said.

He also told students that when they are in elementary school, they must study a little of everything, while at college, a student can study what they like, such as programs in working with horses, designing video games, teaching and more than 300 other careers.

Stuart or another representative will be back each year through grade six to talk again about all students being able to attend college.

Barbara Radmore, director of the Western Foothills Kids Association, the group sponsoring Early Aspirations, said a community group is forming to encourage college attendance.

Also, small scholarships will be presented to students in grades three through six from donations from local businesses later this school year.

Last year, 26 such scholarships were handed out, she said.

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