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Oct. 16, 2002

Student Leaders Will Visit Middle Schools to Talk with Eighth Graders About the Value of College

Charlie Cheatham, the President of the Student Government Association at the University of Louisiana at Monroe is visiting eighth grade classrooms this week. Cheatham along with other students will visit four classrooms at Ouachita Jr. High on Thursday, Oct. 17th from 1:00 p.m. -3:00 p.m. The classes will be in 30-minute intervals.

Student government association presidents and their fellow college students in the University of Louisiana System are traveling Louisiana this semester to talk with eighth graders about the importance of going to college.

Charlie Cheatham said his middle school visits would include talks with principals, assistant principals, counselors and teachers to ask them to encourage their students daily to set their sites on college. "These school officials have graduated from college and know its value. Now, they're in positions of influence with students who will respect their counsel about going to college. We will ask for their continued support of our messages."

Dr. Clausen, President of the University of Louisiana System, said her office recently produced a public service announcement that is airing on Louisiana's television stations and that targets its message to eighth graders and their families. The spot notes that middle school is a critical time in student development. It challenges students to higher expectations and academic work, including reading 25 books a year, taking algebra by the eighth grade and writing a paper every week.

"Most of the concepts in the middle school spot might be new and bold to most viewers. Only about 25% of students in Louisiana and the U.S. now experience such a rigorous curriculum. We must set high expectations for all children and offer the opportunities and support they need to meet this challenge," Dr. Clausen said.

She said the System also is producing special posters for middle and high schools and for parents that identify the core courses required for college admission. The posters will be distributed to schools and homes in October.

Dr. Clausen said the best investment in children is the earliest investment. The U.S. Department of Education reports that elementary and middle school students who take rigorous math and science courses are 10 times more likely to succeed in college than those who do not.

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