On Jan. 29, I visited Ridgecrest Elementary School as part of volunteer service with College Access Corps. Expecting it to simply be a day where I would talk to kids about college, I was astounded. In a school where I was expecting to find kids running free at recess, unaware of the troubles of the world, I found an example of the division of a society based upon socio-economic class – something I was unaware could exist with children as young as 11. Students who are a part of a poorer household are statistically less likely to go to college or even graduate from high school.
In my school district, the division of friendships due to socio-economic class came in junior high school or later, unlike what I saw in Ridgecrest Elementary, where I found the division started much sooner.
Sitting down at a white plastic lunch table pulled out of a closet, I watched little children come, fleeing from the dangers of math homework and reading. Some seemed to be happy, but others seemed let down by the possibility of sitting with others they didn’t get along with well.
As the children sat down with their lunches, I noticed something strange. Students who brought lunches from home in fancy lunch pails and Tupperware very rarely, interacted with those who had a can of beans in a plastic grocery bag. Students who had hot lunch from school often felt awkward; a card placed on their plate seemed to symbolize their status as a student with free or reduced lunch, a program which give students who are struggling financially a way to have lunch.
This division was further seen at Orting High School. Students who struggled in school walked in packs from class to class, shoulders slumped and bags under their eyes. When I chatted with some, they seemed to not understand what they would do in their future – college didn’t seem like an option for them.
With the issue of poverty affecting the amount of students who are able to go to college, we as college students must ask ourselves: What has brought us to this point? What circumstances have led to our ability to go to college? What can we do to help others who do not have the fortune of being in our circumstances? I urge all to find a way to help others who are not as fortunate as we ourselves have been. Please contact Sarah McDaniel at SJmcdaniel@pierce.ctc.edu to volunteer at College Access Corps. Only an hour a week of your time could make a difference in the life of someone who truly needs it.
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