Some 6-year-olds have more ASU spirit than most college students

In Alicia Webb’s first-grade class at Central Elementary, “fear the fork” is a common phrase.

Does the typical Sun Devil have more school spirit than the average first-grader? If that first-grader is from Central Elementary School in Rancho Cucamonga, California, the answer is probably no.

In Alicia Webb’s first-grade class at Central Elementary, “fear the fork” is a common phrase.

In an effort to promote college-positivity early in life, every teacher at Central Elementary chose a college they wanted to represent. Webb chose ASU, where her son goes to college.

Since then, what began as a simple post on the “ASU Moms” Facebook page has blossomed into a full-blown college mentorship opportunity.

Caitlan Rocha, Senior Community Mentor at Manzanita Hall, saw Webb’s Facebook post looking to make connections with ASU and jumped at the opportunity to begin a pen pal relationship between the 30 resident assistants at Manzanita Hall and the 29 first-graders of Central Elementary.

It's a match almost too perfect to be true.

“This is my 27th year of teaching, and I’ve never done something like this that has such a positive impact on my kids and the college kids as well,” Webb said. “It’s just been wonderful.”

The resident assistants at Manzanita Hall will be sending letters to the children at Central Elementary each month including plenty of ASU swag, including flags, pom-pons and foam fingers. These letters describe each college student’s lives and experiences at ASU.

“(The first-graders) are beyond the moon,” Webb said. “They just think this is amazing, and it’s so cute because we made a bulletin board in my classroom and put up every ASU thing we could find. They’re all about Sparky.”

Listen to the students talk about why they love ASU below:

Webb said her students are so excited about ASU that some have been planning college visits, sleeping with the letters they’ve received and defending it to their parents who support rival universities.

Webb personally delivered the children’s replies to the resident assistants of Manzanita Hall when she visited ASU during parents week. She said the college students were just as excited about the letters as her first-grade students.

Cuteness aside, Webb said this experience has been extremely positive for the children.

“There’s a really big demographic of students whose families have never been to college,” Webb said. “We need to promote that it doesn’t matter where you come from socioeconomically.”

Manzanita Hall Community Director Justin Clark said this opportunity has been rewarding for the resident assistants as well.

“You can have such a big influence on someone of such a young age,” Clark said. “And of course we hope they have those positive influences, but if not, then we can be that person for them.”

This influence plays out in the classroom when the kids use “college speak,” which means speaking in full sentences, or “act like college kids,” which means following direction and acting maturely.

Corie Jaquith, sociology and criminology sophomore and Manzanita Hall Community Mentor, said in addition to the mentorship aspect, writing the letters has been a fun way to spread ASU spirit.

“Everyone here at Manzanita Hall is really passionate about ASU,” Jaquith said. “It’s really cool to get to share that.”

Senior Community Mentor Caitlan Rocha said the letters will continue all year long as the pen pals develop stronger relationships and continue to relay their college experience to the eager first-graders.

“Alicia’s really reiterating to them that anyone can go to college, from any background or any place.” she said. “You can come from anywhere."

Related Links:

Future Sun Devil Families workshops prepare local high schoolers for college

Camp Sparky, NASA team up to teach fifth-graders


Reach the reporter at icastil3@asu.edu or follow @isabella_m_cast on twitter

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