Some of the students’ feet barely reached the floor as they patiently waited in a Suffolk University classroom.

Then a ripple of excitement went through the group of soon-to-be fifth-graders as Mayor Thomas M. Menino entered the room to greet the students, who are beginning their preparations for college at a very young age through the College Success Academy’s Steppingstone program.

“How many of you will be the first in your family to go to college?” asked Menino. Hands waved, and the mayor told the students that, like them, he was the first in his family to aspire to higher education.

“We know all you young people deserve a good education, and that’s why we’re here,” he said.

Suffolk University is hosting Steppingstone, a six-week summer session that will begin to prepare the fifth-graders not only to be admitted to college, but to succeed there. The pilot program is offered by College Success Academy in partnership with the Boston Public Schools.
Making school fun

“Being in school in the summer is not always fun, but we want to make it fun for you,” said Barry Brown, Suffolk University acting president and provost.

Brown told the group of 48 youngsters from the Jackson/Mann and Edison schools in Brighton that education can open many doors for them. Then he asked them to put their hands on the seats of their chairs. “People who sat in those seats before you have become scientists, bankers, lawyers, and artists. Remember what you can do here and what you can become.

Student Ty-Kierah Gaines had worked on math and English that morning but said that the group doesn’t mind doing schoolwork in the summer, “because that way we won’t forget what we learned” during the academic year.

Gaines expects that today’s effort will prove worthwhile in the future. “I look forward to getting into college and getting a good scholarship.”
Steppingstone pledge

The session ended with the students joining together to recite the pledge that sums up the goals of Steppingstone:

I am proud to be a Steppingstone Scholar
I commit to excellence today and tomorrow
I contribute positively to a safe and trusting community
I am always respectful and supportive of others
I am going to college