USM expresses appreciation to elementary schools


PHILIPSBURG – The University of St. Martin (USM) on Tuesday publicly thanked all the elementary schools and students who participated in its Upward Bound Initiative for the Spring 2010 term while looking forward to the schools’ participation in other sessions.

An estimated 601 students visited USM this term as part of the Upward Bound Initiative which was started in 2008 and is designed to encourage elementary school students to do well in school, look forward to high school, and start thinking earlier about college and career possibilities. During the 2008 pilot program, a USM representative visited four elementary schools in the immediate area and when the construction of upper level of USM was completed, schools were invited to the USM campus.

We are pleased with the progress of Upward Bound Initiative that was started in 2008 and I am sure that with the continuation of the awakening and conscienticizing of our youngsters at an early age and giving them the direction to higher education, St. Maarten will be well on its way to building its human capital on a steady and sustained basis," said USM President Josianne Fleming –Artsen.

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The Upward Bound Initiative focuses on the sixth graders as they are at the point where they will be transitioning to high school after their exams.

We hope to encourage the young minds to strive for academic excellence as they transition to high school," remarked USM Admissions Director Angelique Hazel. 
During the program’s sessions, students get a tour of USM which includes the classes used for the Teacher Education Program, the video conferencing classroom, distance learning laboratory, computer labs, library, and offices. According to Hazel, who also conducted the tours along with Admissions Representative Lakhsmi Hathiramani, students asked various questions during their campus tour. Most questions were regarding Room 105, the video conferencing classroom. 

There was some speculation after seeing the equipment in the room as to what Room 105 was used for.  Students were informed that Room 105 is used for distance learning and students learned how distance learning happens at USM.  Students also enjoyed viewing the projects on display by the students in the Bachelor of Arts in Education," Hazel reiterated.

Hazel added that the students asked many questions about the university such as what is hospitality (program), how many students USM has, what time are classes held, what is a dean, and whether they too can attend USM?

The sessions conclude with a workshop where students are informed about career possibilities and the educational routes needed to realize these possibilities. The workshops were facilitated by Marketing Director Michel Chance and Admissions Director Angelique Hazel.

Many want to be engineers, teachers, doctors, firefighters, police officers, and lawyers, while others want to become athletes or learn game or fashion designing. Although it is early in their lives, it is very encouraging to see a majority of our youngsters already identifying career possibilities. This is their head-start to becoming productive and educated citizens. With St. Maarten heading to a new constitutional status, the country will be needing all the skilled, qualified, and educated persons possible," said Chance.

Important is the fact that our youngsters are reminded of their value and that they know they can follow any career they wish. But, it is very important, based on our educational system, that students are guided in the most appropriate directions, respectively."

The USM Marketing Director said that, during the workshops, students are asked about their career interests and the respective high schools where they think they are going to attend and often the two do not align. He added that if, for example, a student wants to become a doctor or lawyer and ends up in vocational school, then that student will have more challenges to overcome, in order to get into the desired career compared to if that student attend and complete an academic high school. He said the same applies to a student who wants to be a carpenter and ends up in an academic high school.

Education and careers are interrelated and students are urged to seriously consider their options, ask questions, and to do their research," according to Chance. In addition, students receive a newsletter and study tips during the Upward Bound Initiative program. "We do not believe that education results are a surprise for students, for they are achieved through input of efforts," said Chance, while wishing all the students much success on their upcoming exams.

St. Joseph School’s sixth grade with some 23 students participated in the program on Tuesday. This session was the last school for this semester 2010, which started in January and ran through April. Other Elementary schools which participated include: the Sister Marie Laurence, Learning Unlimited, Oranje School, Leonard Connor School, Christian Hillside School, Ruby Labega School, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School, Genevieve DeWeever School, Sister Regina Primary School, Seventh Day Adventist Primary School, Methodist Agogic Center, and St. Dominic Primary School.

Teachers and school administrators have been responding favorably to the program Chance said, while adding that the information provided by the teachers and administrators will be used to further improve the program.

It is a pleasure to see the Upward Bound Initiative embraced by the primary schools," said Hazel. 

We would like to thank all the teachers and school administrators for giving us this opportunity to interact with the students and also to let the students know that there is a university here for them," Chance said. USM is looking forward to all the schools participating in future sessions of the Upward Bound Program.

USM will do all that it can with the help of the community to ensure and assure quality education for present and future generations," USM President Fleming-Artsen said.

The Upward Bound Initiative schedule for the next term will be available within short.

 Students from various schools visiting the University of St. Martin as part of its Upward Bound Initiative. Over 600 sixth graders from the various elementary schools visited USM between January and April 6, 2010 as part of the program designed to encourage elementary school students to do well in school, look forward to high school, and start thinking earlier about college and career possibilities. The students also received a newsletter with study tips.