Conference Held for 500 Schoolchildren

A group of 25 fifth-graders visiting Cleveland High School on Wednesday were asked: "What do you know about colleges?"

"Job preparation," one student shouted.

Another said, "Degrees."

Perhaps the most profound response was, "If you drop out of high school, you don't get to go to college."

And that was exactly the message that the organizers of the Cavalier Conference at Cleveland High in Reseda were trying to get out to the 500 students from five area elementary schools who attended the third annual event.

"We're trying to get them excited about staying in school and by coming out here, they can become inspired to move on to higher education," said Kyunghae Hong Schwartz, Adopt-A-School organizer and ESL instructor at Cleveland.

The elementary schools that participated in the daylong event were Melvin Avenue, Blythe Street and Cantara Street schools in Reseda, Winnetka Avenue in Canoga Park and Napa Street in Northridge.

In addition to attending stay-in-school workshops, the students had the option of learning about diverse topics ranging from conflict resolution to the food chain. Other workshops included working with computers, creating objects with wood and metal and navigating the Internet.

As part of the day's festivities, the students were treated to a demonstration by Cleveland's boys and girls basketball teams as well as a dance number by the school's cheerleading squad.

"Our main goal for this event is just to show the kids a good time," said Cleveland junior Yolanda Moats, 17, director of community relations for Adopt-A-School, a student club with a membership of 80.

"And by being here and seeing how much fun high school can be, we really hope that it would encourage them to stay in school and not drop out."

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