More young students this fall will be thinking of higher education in their futures.

More young students this fall will be thinking of higher education in their futures.

Joining Mark Twain Elementary School, three more schools in Carthage have been added to the No Excuses University School network: Fairview Elementary, Columbian Elementary and Carthage Middle School.  The program, which was established in California by Damen Lopez of Turnaround Schools, is a partnership between the school, students and parents to familiarize higher education to students at a very early age.

“Early intervention makes a difference for children to vision of what the possibilities are after high school,” said Ronna Patterson, Fairview principal. “It's about giving children, as young as kindergarten, options – A dream – The whole philosophy of No Excuses is that no child should have any barriers in the way of attending college.”

With four schools in the No Excuses program, Deborah Swarens, assistant superintendent for instruction for Carthage R-9, said the school district is moving the right direction.  

“We are growing a district-wide culture from K-12 where we are committing our time, talents and resources to make sure every student in our district is prepared and academically equipped to go to a trade or tech school, two-year college or four-year college or university following high school graduation if he or she chooses to do so,” she said. “We are no longer taking on the role of 'gatekeepers' where we decide which students are trade or tech or college material, rather we are opening the gates for every student to pursue higher education. We are educating our parents, right along with our students, as to the many educational opportunities that are available for their children after they graduate from High School. At a time in our country where college and career readiness and common core standards are the new buzz words in education, our district is preparing a strong foundation that supports our students' learning now and in their future.”

When Mark Twain implemented the philosophy into every-day thinking in the spring, teachers led students in choosing a college or university to study in individual classrooms. As a Mark Twain fourth grader, Garrett Stubbs expressed enthusiasm to go to college when he was introduced to the No Excuses program.

“I think No Excuses is a good program because it helps me and my friends go to college,” Stubbs said. “It reminds me to not make excuses about making mistakes – that it's my responsibility to get to school and remember my books and homework, and to be a life-long learner.”