Titans welcome Class of 2025

Sept. 2, 2011 at 4:02 a.m.
Updated Sept. 6, 2011 at 4:06 a.m.

Savannah Ortiz, 4, a pre-kindergarten student at Chandler Elementary School, attends the orientation at Victoria East High School.

Savannah Ortiz, 4, a pre-kindergarten student at Chandler Elementary School, attends the orientation at Victoria East High School.

Friends Tucker Caylor and Max Galvan posed for a picture in the East High School cafeteria, showing off their new Titan graduating class T-shirts.

Visualizing the boys with just a couple more feet in height and a larger size on the T-shirt tag, it was as if the 4-year-olds' mothers could see into the future.

"You can imagine 2025. Pretty soon, we'll be sending them off to graduation," Max's mom, Leodeli Galvan said.

The pair of mothers and sons were at the Victoria school district's first ever pre-kindergarten orientation Monday night. Along with the kids' T-shirts broadcasting "Titans Class of 2025," the estimated 95 families who showed up to the event, received a dry eraser board, calendar, books for parents and kids and plenty of snacks.

Even more, they got a schooling on schooling.

"What and how a child learns from the ages of 3 to 5 can have a lifelong impact on the development of the brain," said Rachel Parsons, coordinator for VISD's Family Connection Center. "Pre-k children are like sponges and ready and eager to absorb math and language concepts."

Parsons addressed the crammed cafeteria with a quick-hitting presentation highlighting research that shows the benefits of pre-kindergarten.

"When you look at it long term, it does make a huge impact as far as benefit to (kids), families, communities and even economic savings," she said.

The research claimed, among other things, that pre-k students were more likely to graduate from high school, less likely to require special education services, less likely to become pregnant and less likely to be arrested for a violent crime.

"I think it's instrumental to learn and to see statistics about where the future may lay," Galvan said. "That's the reason I came, was to see what we can do to help prepare our kids for the future because they're our future leaders."

Parsons also talked about how pre-kindergarten offers kids social learning as well as expectations for behavior. She reiterated the importance of kids attending class every day to maximize the potential.

Galvan said her son has already has improved his ability to pronounce words thanks to the interactions pre-k offers.

"Plus it wears them out," Tucker's mom, Melissa Caylor, joked. "After the first day of school, I heard quiet, and I walked into his room. He was crashed out in his chair at 7 o'clock."

That's to be expected after a long day of playing outside, learning to use glue and coloring, according to Tucker.

Both Caylor and Galvan said they were concerned about their children being able to attend pre-kindergarten after hearing the state cut funding for full-day programs.

But VISD prioritized the full-day program and scrounged up other sources to fund the program that in particular serves students who are homeless, in foster care, eligible for a free or reduced lunch, a child of an active military parent, or who speak little English.

For every $1 that's invested in pre-k, the public saves $7 by reducing the need for remedial education, welfare and criminal justice services, Parsons said.

While the moms let the statistics sink in, Max and Tucker were working their ways around surrounding tables, talking with friends from school, appearing comfortable in their future high school.

"It will be neat to see what this looks like ... in 2025," Caylor said.



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