Sonora Elementary class shows Concordia colors with gift scarves

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As sixth-grade teacher Hilary Fenn stood in front of her students and the rest of the pupils at Sonora Elementary School during morning announcements Friday, she asked all of them one question.

“Where are we going after high school?” she spoke into a microphone at the school’s central courtyard.

“College!” they all yelled.

For many students at the Costa Mesa school who are aiming to go to college, they would be the first in their family to do so, Fenn said.


On Friday morning, Fenn’s 27 students donned green and gold shirts with the name of Concordia University printed on the front. But the children soon were surprised with matching scarves handed out by retired Concordia professor Martin Schramm.

For the past nine years, Sonora has participated in the nationwide No Excuses University program promoting college readiness to students in elementary, middle and high schools.

Each class at Sonora “adopts” a college, posting memorabilia of the chosen school around the classroom. Flags with the logos of schools such as Stanford and USC hang outside classroom doors.

As part of the program, students are taught how to research and find the right college for them and how to attain scholarships, Fenn said.

When choosing a college for her class to adopt, Fenn had no doubt she would select her alma mater, Concordia.

She received her degree in liberal studies in 2009 from the private Christian university in Irvine. Afterward, she earned her multiple-subject teaching credential and her master’s in elementary education from the school.

She learned from a Daily Pilot article last month that Concordia had begun welcoming incoming freshmen and transfer students with green and gold Concordia scarves.

At many British and Irish colleges and universities, wearing collegiate scarves is a traditional way for students to show their school pride on game days and at other events, according to a Concordia news release.

Fenn emailed Concordia staff members to see if her students could get the Concordia scarves. She got a response from Schramm, one of the founding professors of Concordia in 1966. He retired this summer.

“What’s neat about the whole thing is how forward-thinking it is,” Schramm said Friday at Sonora. “When you’re in elementary school, you might not be thinking that far ahead. If one student in this group ends up in Concordia, it’s a success. But they will go somewhere because what they’re doing [at Sonora] is promoting college and getting a degree.”

As Schramm handed the scarves — for which he and Fenn split the cost — to a line of Fenn’s students on the courtyard Friday, the children immediately wrapped the garments around their necks.

Fenn said her class next plans to make its own Concordia flag to hang outside the door.