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If you went to Northside or Southside Elementary in the late 1950s, you were asked along with every other child “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
The typical answers were (and note the gender of that era of thinking): fireman, policeman, teacher or a mama. Later in the 1960s, after John Glenn circled the globe, some children added being an astronaut.
These days, you cannot begin to guess what BIG Goals children set for themselves. Take the third-graders at Heritage Elementary, who read I GOT BIG PLANS,which talks about a small child shouting from the mountaintop or even the moon so “then the entire world will know of my plans!”
Having a plan and working toward it was quite clear to the children.
Student Bennett said it’s necessary “so you can have a great future.”
He said he knows it requires hard work, but he’s used to that.
“I work with my grandfather to earn money, and I also joined a karate class where I earned a purple belt,” he said. “Now my goal is a black one.”
His immediate goal is to learn division tables in math.
Sydnee wants to make the basketball team so she knows “it means practicing a lot and playing every day after school.”
However, 20 years from now, you will find her working as a labor and delivery nurse at Baptist East.
Ceaver wants to be a doctor and drew a hospital with lots of floors and windows that he said represented the University of Kentucky Medical Center. He said he knows that will require “listening, writing, and learning science and math. So I will start this year.”
Their teachers challenged all the children to think about their lives in 5 years...10 years...20 years.
Jakob wants to be in the Army to protect our country. “I would need to go to the Air Force Academy and learn a different language every year because you’d need that...because if I was sent to China, I’d have to speak Chinese,” he said.
Cole drew a picture of a man holding an axe and a shovel to demonstrate his desire to be an archaeologist. “They study and dig for dinosaur bones,” he said. “I’m really interested in how they lived, what they ate, and what let them survive until they died.”
Maddy wants to be better at basketball, but she also knows she must “be ready for college, get a good scholarship and get a good job.”
She said she already has her eyes on Cumberland University because it’s a Christian school where she can learn to be a teacher. Tucker wants to “work hard at everything so I can go to college and then come back here as a teacher.” He’s working hard now in his journal, writing one song per day. Brooklyn also wants to be a teacher because “it looks like fun” even though she knows she will have to read a lot.
Elizabeth said she loves her two pet dogs so much she has decided to become a veterinarian. She said, “I will have to learn a lot of science and how to show respect and kindness to a lot of animals.”
Most said they knew the stepping-stone to college and a career was Shelby County High School, where Maddy’s grandmother (Diane Cantrill) had been a teacher and where some of her classmates vowed to make straight A’s or to continue family traditions as Rockets.
One thing for certain, they shouted from Heritage’s front lobby “I GOT BIG PLANS!” and knew how to achieve them.
Duanne B. Puckett is public relations coordinator for Shelby County Public Schools.