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Success 101; Clark students mentor Columbus Park School pupils.

Byline: Sandy Meindersma

WORCESTER -- Students are typically 18 when they go to college. Clark University, however, had some visiting students who were slightly more than half that age.

Thanks to a partnership between Columbus Park Elementary School and Gryphon and Pleaides, the senior honor society at Clark, fifth- and sixth-grade students from the elementary school recently spent a day at Clark, learning about leadership, college readiness, goal setting and academic achievement.

Columbus Park Principal Siobhan Dennis said the students were excited to be participating in the day.

"We had T-shirts made,'' Ms. Dennis said. "And we walked over with the Clark students escorting us.''

Once on campus, the 70 students were divided into groups for campus tours, information sessions and ice-breaker games.

Michael Harper, a Clark graduate and a member of the Admissions Office staff, shared his struggles growing up in Worcester.

"Originally, I was not a great student,'' Mr. Harper said. "But something that stuck with me from the time I was about your age was 'The more A's on your report card means more zeroes on your paycheck.' ''

Mr. Harper shared about how he set goals for himself and learned that to achieve something, he needed to define what he wanted, set a path and hold himself accountable to the plan.

"My grandmother had 17 children, and I have more than 60 cousins, and I am the first person in my family to go to college,'' he said.

Columbus Park student Jonathan Salmonsen wanted to know more about Mr. Harper's perseverance.

"What was your biggest roadblock?'' he asked.

"I think it was my environment. My friends didn't really care about school, and they were in gangs. But I knew that getting into college would get me out,'' Mr. Harper said.

In a breakout session, students split up into groups of six students, each matched with a Clark student as they brainstormed about leaders -- who they are, and what makes them leaders.

"This is so great,'' Mrs. Dennis said. "This is what they will remember forever.''

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Title Annotation:Weeklies
Author:Meindersma, Sandy
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Article Type:Travel narrative
Date:Apr 10, 2015
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