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Fourth-grade class in California attends ‘Stetson University’

Sarah Stetson and her fourth grade class wave pennants and other Stetson memorabilia outside their portable classroom in California

Sarah Stetson and her fourth-graders show their Hatter spirit in Vacaville, California, located halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento.

Welcome to Vacaville, California, and the fourth-grade class of teacher Sarah Stetson.

Her school, located northeast of San Francisco, made it their mission this year to empower all students to plan for college. The goal is to instill a mindset that anything, including college, is possible in their lives. As part of the mission, each class had to select a college.

“I had to choose a university that my class would identify with and support in order to encourage the college mindset. Since my name is Ms. Stetson, I only thought it fitting that we go with Stetson University,” said Sarah, adding she doesn’t think she is related to the university’s namesake, John B. Stetson.

She and her class decorated a corner of their classroom with a Stetson University hat and a banner that said, “College Bound.”

Sarah reached out to the university in DeLand for memorabilia to decorate her room. “I told the class I was writing to the university and they are so excited! They already chant, ‘We are Stetson University,'” Sarah wrote in an email last September. “Since they think they are actually being educated by a Stetson, we joke that my classroom is Stetson University.”

Sarah Stetson’s class chants, “We are Stetson University.”

A few weeks ago, Sarah got back in touch with the university to recount her success. The school is currently using a program called Accelerated Reader. The students read a book and take a test. Afterward, they get points and credit for all the words they read in each book. The goal is to have every student read 1 million words by the end of the school year.

A cute little girl stands in a very large Stetson University green t-shirt.

Future Hatter? Fourth-graders in Sarah Stetson’s class, who read 1,000,000 words, earn a Stetson T-shirt and a Doctorate. Photos provided.

“I have been using the goodies that you sent as incentives and it is going WAY better than I anticipated,” Sarah Stetson wrote in her update in late January.

When the students read 250,000 words, they earn an Associates degree and a pair of Stetson University sunglasses. When they reach 500,000 words, they receive a Stetson lanyard and a Bachelor’s Degree; for 750,000 words they get a Stetson pennant and a Master’s degree; and those who reach 1,000,000 words get either a Stetson drawstring bag or a T-shirt, and a Doctorate.

Already, two students have reached 1,000,000 words and half of the class has surpassed 500,000 words — which just demonstrates the high academic achievements of Stetson’s “sister” campus on the West Coast.