The semester is over, and only the graduating seniors remain on campus, awaiting their big commencement day next Friday. But, things are never quiet for long at Wagner.

On Friday, May 17, approximately 150 first graders from P.S. 41 in New Dorp Beach, a school severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy, spent the morning on campus, visiting the library, planetarium, sports center, and dining hall, and meeting students and faculty.

“The school has been dealing with much disappointment this year post-Sandy and asked me to facilitate a campus visit to end the year on a positive note,” said Jennifer Lauria, Wagner College associate professor of education. “Having the first graders spend time on a campus like ours will hopefully give the children a taste of what college life is like and help them realize that it is an attainable life goal.”

This campus visit was the culmination of many lessons the children have been receiving at their school. Every day, the students at P.S. 41 are greeted by a large banner proclaiming the school’s motto, “We are all going to college!” They see that message throughout the school and in every classroom.

P.S. 41 Principal Elise Feldman said that they have been reading books about going to college and learning vocabulary words like “dorms” and “faculty.”

Many of the children who attend P.S. 41 are first-generation Americans, and many of them have the potential to be the first in their families to attend college. Feldman says that for them and their parents, the visit to campus is a chance to feel a part of this learning community and to know that what they learn and how they perform in school today has a purpose and meaning for their future.

“It’s about what do I aspire to be? What big dreams do I have when everything is possible with a good education?” Feldman says. “Everything we learn today matters for the future.”

“You can’t decide when you’re 18 that you’re going to college,” adds Assistant Principal Adele Carbonella. “It starts now. Why not start with first grade?”


— Laura Barlament, Editor, Wagner Magazine

Photo by Anna Mulé

May 17, 2013