Program inspires kids to follow higher learning


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With public education funding getting slashed left and right, this truly was an inspiring graduation of the youngest grade of children.

The pilot program that started at an East San Jose school four years ago starts with kindergartners inspiring them to look at higher education as an expectation rather than an option.

The graduating kindergarten class from Ann Darling Elementary School in San Jose has lofty goals ahead, and proud parents are supporting them.

"I want him very highest in the sky, maybe doctor, engineer," said parent Surinder Kaur.

This graduating class of nearly 100 students has an extra special chance of achieving higher education. Wednesday, they heard words of advice and each received a certificate guaranteeing them admission to a Silicon Valley college, as long as they meet eligibility requirements when they graduate high school.

"We wanted to plant the seed very early that every child and their family should consider college and should have that as the ultimate goal for their children," said Mission College President Dr. Harriett Robles.

Dr. Robles is from one of the educational institutions in the SilVHER Program, or Silicon Valley Higher Education Roundtable. The supporting institutions range from community colleges to UC Santa Cruz and San Jose State University.

This is the fourth year of this program aimed at increasing college participation among historically underrepresented students.

School officials say many of the students at Ann Darling would become the first in their families to attend college, so they make sure to reach out beyond the classroom.

"More than just working with the children we work with families, and we have provided bilingual assistance to the families in terms of information about college and college planning," said Dr. Robles.

The SilVHER Program also supports activities to support these students through their years of schools, from reading programs and tours to libraries to encourage literacy, to giving them a gift of a dictionary and lessons on how to use it.

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