Pender County schools are making a focused effort to address the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students. Students at West Pender Middle School were dealt a dose of reality Tuesday. ”If the kids are not thinking about college in middle school, they're behind. The reason they're behind is because we have this huge college knowledge gap in the United States,” said inspirational speaker Mychal Wynn. That knowledge gap can begin as early as preschool and affect a child's achievement through high school and beyond. Some students are exposed to a college culture at home from their parents while others are not. “That they may miss the message. They may say, ‘ya, I want to go to college’, but they're not going to have a plan,” Wynn added. To try and address this gap, Pender County schools brought Wynn in to inspire students to find their passion and start setting goals for their future. Some already have. “I want to be a commercial airline pilot for Delta. It just inspired me to go out and want to conquer the world now,” said eighth grader Kayla Keith. Sean Parker added, “I want to be a brain surgeon, so I want to set goals so I can be a better person in life.” Austin Murray also has big plans. “I want to be a vet. Now I know what I need to do to get to that goal.” Others said that the presentation convinced them that their future is what they make of it. “I should feel I have the right to do whatever I want. So that's what I’m aiming for,” said Jonathan Cruz. It’s alright if students don't know exactly what they want to do at this age, but it is important to start the process. “You should determine what your passions are and how you can pursue those passions at different schools after graduation,” Wynn said. Mr. Wynn made stops at Cape Fear, West Pender, and Topsail middle schools today. He will pay a visit to Burgaw Middle School tomorrow morning.
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