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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mary Todd Elementary gathers T-shirts to show students they can earn college degrees

Mary Todd Elementary handed out Fort Hays State University T-shirts to everyone in the building. (Photo from FCPS)


By Tammy L. Lane
Special to KyForward
The College-Bound Bulldogs program at Mary Todd Elementary in Lexington is gathering quite a collection of T-shirts, including one for every student and staff member sent all the way from Fort Hays State University in Kansas.
Using Facebook to spread the word, teachers and staff have asked for donations and received more than 450 T-shirts featuring various colleges around the country. Mary Todd has handed out 20 shirts a week for several months. Now thanks to the Fort Hays State connection, everyone in the school has at least one T-shirt, ranging from Colorado State and the U.S. Air Force Academy to Centre College and Eastern Kentucky University.

(Photo from FCPS)

“I’ve had people from church ring my doorbell and hand me T-shirts. It’s been really fun,” said Principal Kari Kirchner, who also heard from sorority sisters spread across 15 states. “It would not have been possible without social media. It shows how many people out there are willing to help out.”
Last fall, a teacher emailed a radio station and a DJ ran with it nationally; that’s how folks at Fort Hays State heard about the College-Bound Bulldogs. “The next thing we know, they had a class that wanted to do this as a community service project,” Kirchner recalled.
The students in Kansas raised funds and recently sent the batch of T-shirts featuring the phrase “helping children achieve goals using resources to motivate higher education.” One letter in each word is highlighted to spell out “encourage.” The shirts also promote the Fort Hays State tigers on the front and Mary Todd on the sleeve.
Starting this fall, Mary Todd students will wear their college T-shirts every Wednesday. The school also will put up a map with dots pinpointing all the schools’ locations. Already, staff members are decked out for their alma maters weekly, sharing how they went on to college and how they earned scholarships by keeping up good grades.
“We decided it was really important for our kids to starting building in the expectation that they can go to college,” Kirchner said. “We’re bringing it into focus for the kids to let them know it absolutely is possible. Everything they do now prepares them for that day when they actually enter college, so it makes their learning relevant.”
Tammy L. Lane is a communications specialist and website manager for the Fayette County Public Schools.



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