A group of youngsters at Langley Park-McCormick Elementary learned last week that daring to dream of a better future can bring rewards.
During a ceremony at the school that also marked a farewell to the school’s outgoing class of sixth-graders, two students each were given $5,000 college scholarships for entries they submitted during the 2010-2011 school year to the Dare to Dream - Expect to Succeed - Together We Can charity program based in Atlanta, Ga.
A CIA agent is what Julio Castillo Jr. of Langley Park, one of the award recipients, dreams to be. Castillo received the award with his parents, Julio and Norma Castillo, and his 3-year-old brother, Kevin, in attendance.
“[I’m] very happy,” the 12-year-old rising seventh-grader said.
Jamie Castro of Langley Park, who just finished the seventh grade Buck Lodge Middle School but won for a submission that was made when she attended Langley Park-McCormick, won the other award.
Jamie’s dream is to become a media specialist, she said. The 12-year-old was inspired to become one after working with a specialist at the school’s library, Castro said.
“The librarian here last year, she inspired me,” Jamie said. “I used to help her shelve [books].”
The charity that provides the scholarships is administered by BrainStorm USA, which produces educational software that provides instruction, games and assessments for children in a range of subjects as well as offer courses that help those learning English as a second language.
The program challenges youths to not only come up with a vision of what they want to be when they grow up but layout a plan for how they’ll go about it, what classes they’ll take and what they’ll need to do to accomplish it, said Delores Athey, educational program manager for the charity.
Winners of the contest are determined by a committee of employees for the charity, including Joe Galluccio, president of BrainStorm USA.
College scholarships are offered to students from schools across the nation who enter the competition during four quarters of competition that run through the year, Athey said.
Putting together a package for the competition usually takes a few months, and students typically draw on help from both parents and teachers at the school, said Susan Toerge, who coordinates the school’s participation in the contest.
”Last year, I had the whole school working on it,” said Toerge, an English as a Second Language teacher. “We need to get these guys hoping and dreaming.”
Beyond the program and its package, the Langley Park school works to set all students on a track for college, a trade school or some sort of successful career post graduation, said Amy Stout, the school’s principal.
“Each of you can be whatever you put your mind, heart and soul into,” she said.
The money the children won will be held in a trust until each one attends a college or vocational school when they’re older, Athey said.
The two children weren’t the only ones rewarded in the morning ceremony. Brainstorm USA also gave the school four computers loaded with educational software as the contest also grants computers to the school that produces a contest winner.
Those computers most likely will be placed in a pair of classrooms where they’ll be available to students doing group work, Stout said. The computers will replace older existing machines in the classrooms, she said.