Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

On Sunday Afternoon, at Least, They Were Still Holding Tight

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

On Sunday Afternoon, at Least, They Were Still Holding Tight

Article excerpt

On Sunday afternoon, at least, they were still holding tight to their dreams.

Ella Brison said she hopes to become an architect.

Damien Moore wants to play college football.

And Kim Enloe, her 13-year-old face sprinkled with freckles, said she plans to become an astronomer "so I can study the stars and try to find out how they got up there."

Dreaming is easy when you're in the eighth grade.

But dreams can melt away as quickly as a January snow.

"The highest school dropout rate is in the ninth grade," warned Alice Roach, principal of Carr Lane Visual and Performing Arts Middle School. "Something is telling us that our kids may not be as prepared as we want them to be."

Roach and other city public school administrators and teachers met with eighth-graders and their families Sunday at Carr Lane School in a new effort to ease the often awkward and sometimes tragic transition from middle school to high school.

The program - the brainchild of John E. Ingram Jr., associate superintendent for elementary, middle and secondary schools - pulled about 500 people into the school gymnasium, most of them eighth-graders and their parents.

The eighth-graders - members of the high school graduating class for 2000 in St. Louis - ate lemon cookies, sipped fruit punch and listened to counselors and high school students tell them that education was the surest path to realizing their dreams.

Among the students was Larvell Minor of International Studies Middle School, who plans to attend Soldan High School this fall and, hopefully, one day play basketball for Georgetown University.

Larvell's grandmother, Althea Burns, said Sunday's visit to Carr Lane was a kind of homecoming for her. She attended kindergarten at the school 63 years ago.

"These children have opportunities we never had when we were growing up," Burns said. "And they need to take advantage of them."

Last week, she said, she attended graduation ceremonies for two of her grandchildren from the University of Missouri at St. …

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