Hands shot into the air as Pat Lecuyer’s fourth-grade students at Palmetto Academy of Learning and Success charter school eagerly vied to answer the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
The students were learning about Labor Day last week in anticipation of Monday’s national holiday, which celebrates the contributions of American workers.
Despite the children’s young ages – 8 through 10 – they related some lofty goals they’ve set for themselves when they are old enough to enter the workforce.
“When I grow up, I want to be the first black woman president,” said Trinity Williams, 8, who said she remembers going to the polls with her mother for the presidential election. “She told me all the names of the presidents, and I was upset because there were no girl names in there. I asked mommy why, and she said there was never a woman president, so I told her I want to be one.”
Other students said they already are focusing on the military, despite the fact it is a challenging – and sometimes dangerous – career.
“I’d really like to do the right thing,” said Aaron Ridgle, 9, who said his parents already know of his plans. “They said if I dream it, they want the best for me, so I should go for it.”
Ella Larson, 10, said she wants to become a Marine. She said she has been influenced by an ex-Marine who lives in her neighborhood and is more than ready for any physical challenges she would have to face.
“They’re helping us to be free,” she said.
Several students expressed interest in becoming doctors, but most went further and listed their preferred area of specialization.
“I want to be a hematologist,” said Jason Ferraro, 9, who said he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. He said he wanted to work really hard in school and get a college scholarship, and eventually go into research.
Jacob Stark, 8, said he wants to be a “pediatric children’s doctor,” based on a personal experience. “Last year, I was in the hospital for three or four weeks. It looked pretty cool, and you get to save people’s lives.”
“We have big dreams in here,” said Lecuyer, who said she had never wanted to become anything other than a teacher, telling the class that as a child, she played school with her younger brother, and she wanted kids to feel safe to take risks.
Other occupations that were mentioned included veterinarian, marine biologist, singer and Olympic gymnast, a path that was echoed by Brooke Aland, 6, a student in Amanda Wilson’s first-grade class.
“I want to be a cheerleader or a gymnast because I can be very flexible and do very good flips,” she said.
Wilson’s students were in motion, working on projects around the room, but she said they had talked about the idea of community and celebrating workers. While several youngsters – all only around 6 years old – said they had no idea what they’d eventually become, there were a couple who were sure they want to be just like their parents.
“I want to be a make-up artist and follow my mommy’s footsteps,” said Nalani Meade, 6, who gave an instant answer while keeping full attention on her work at hand, while Darius Green, 6, said, “Since my dad’s a doctor, I want to be a doctor.”
But there was one occupation that took the room by storm when Tyler Niedermoser, 6, announced his choice.
“I want to be an FBI spy,” he said, and immediately, there were at least three recruits who signed on with him.
Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.