Quickly pledged donations from a dedicated Aggie alumni network ensured that 55
Raguet fifth grade teacher April Hays and principal Kristi Shofner kicked around the idea of having the students tour a large university. Exposing students to the high education experience is part of the Nacogdoches Independent School District’s focus on career and college readiness.
Which campus Hays would choose came easy. While she is a Stephen F. Austin State University grad, says she lives and breathes A&M.
“My whole family bleeds maroon,” she said with a laugh.
A dwindling field trip fund nearly halted plans, though. Hays needed $220 more and considered fundraising to make up the difference. That’s when her husband, Danny — an Aggie alum and Henderson civil engineer — jumped in and called Nacogdoches A&M Club president and 1996 graduate Scarlett Sloane.
Sloane, who is well known for her love of all that is A&M, sent out an email to 123 fellow Aggies and “the response was quick and overwhelming,” Sloane said. “Within a few hours we began to turn down members who wanted to contribute because we already had raised more than was requested! That’s the power of the Aggie Network.”
She attributed school pride to the tidal wave of support.
“When you feel so passionately about something, you want others to get to experience it too,” Sloane said. “The members of the Nacogdoches A&M Club are honored to play a small role in exposing our local fifth graders to the place we care so deeply about … and just maybe some of these students will have the opportunity to attend Texas A&M in the future.”
Donors included Amy Huggins, Fran McAfee-Roth, W. Ed Rosenberger, Scarlett Sloane, Gene and Sharron Graves, Steven and Cheryl Bartlett, Colin and Jennifer Smith, Gerardo Saldana, Kurt Sutton and John and Carolyn Woods.
Hays expressed amazement at the generosity saying, “People we don’t have any direct connections with donated money so that these kids could go and experience this large university. We are very fortunate to have people in Nacogdoches who are so willing to help.”
Once the money was in hand, Shofner and NISD College and Career Readiness coordinator Keri Launius began assembling details for the trip. While at A&M, the students will see highlights of the campus, eat lunch at Spence Park and then visit the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
Hays joked that the “big stop” of the day would be in
There’s a chance this special field trip won’t be a one time event. Talk has begun of how the Aggie network might help send next year’s fifth graders to A&M, as well.
“I have heard mention of the possible plans for next year, and I am sure our members will be happy to be involved in this effort,” Sloane said. “At this point I only know this to be an idea and do not know of any formal plans. I am sure we will wait to see how everything goes on the trip this year (for example, are there other needs to be met to make it even more successful) before we plan too much for next year.”