By Katie Murdoch Enterprise editor
LYNNWOOD — For some 12- and 13-year-olds enrolled in the Edmonds School District, college is already on their radar.
Keemia Shaban, 12, knows the correlation between higher education and securing a job offering financial stability.
“I want to go to college so I can get a good job and start my life,” said Shaban, who is considering becoming a zoologist or dentist.
The Edmonds School District and Academic Link Outreach co-hosted Leadership/Academic Camp for Edmonds School District students attending Alderwood Middle School this fall.
The camp was held Aug. 16-20 at Alderwood Middle School, 20000 28th Ave. SW, Lynnwood. This year’s camp saw more than 50 students from six schools.
The camp’s lessons target students moving from grades six to seven and from grades eight to nine — a period of critical transitions for teenagers. Seventh-graders are the most likely to ask for help and adaptive to change, according to Academic Link Outreach.
Jan Link, executive director of Academic Link Outreach, said the camp is designed to help students get on the path toward graduating from high school and succeeding in college.
The recommended age for students to begin thinking about college is 13, Link said. This age also marks the transition for teens to head into middle school which can by trying for some.
“There is the high expectation of being self motivated and self disciplined without the close monitoring they are use to at the elementary level,” Link said. “Students also find a larger amount of freedom and many take advantage of this freedom in a negative way.”
Anthony Vazquez, 12, said prior to attending the camp, he was open minded to going to college, possibly to study music. The camp emphasized his priorities.
“It’s important to go to college and get a good job,” Vazquez said. “I want to have a good life when I grow up.”
Students engaged in bonding activities, socialized with their peers and focused on factors such as having a good attitude. Additionally, they completed math problems and writing assignments to brush up before school starts.
Breeanna Martin, 12, said lessons reinforcing a positive outlook toward the future and academics showed her she needs to have a “win-win attitude.”
“If you want something you can achieve it,” Martin said.
Martin’s goal is to become a chiropractor or a related job in the medical field.
“There will always be a job in the medical profession,” she said.
The nonprofit Academic Link Outreach helps teach the community about the need to provide “outside the school day” academic support for higher learning. The organization offers programs and material to the community. They work with students focusing on academics, building relationships and preparing for high school, college and the workforce.
Link said they want students to value and believe education affects their future.
“Studying and learning is a habit and our goal is to get these students on the path to college early and give them the study skills, the attitude, and the confidence that college can be a reality for them,” she said.
Emotional support the students receive during the camp didn’t end at the end of the week. Link and others will continue working with the students and be available when students call upon them for help.
In addition, parents should be responsible for providing a quality learning environment for students; in addition, students need to hold themselves accountable, she said.
“It is time to stop the blaming game and set up additional conditions so that students are responsible to the system,” she said.
Mesari Rosas, 16, a volunteer camp counselor, said the camp helps children bond with their peers and get a head start so they’re less likely to fall behind during the school year.
It also helps having older students for them to look up to.
“The kids look up to us and ask how middle and high school was,” she said.