South Salt Lake elementary school welcomes students from abroad

Aug 8, 2023, 9:21 AM

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah — An elementary school in the Granite School District is wearing its diversity proudly with students coming from all over the country and world.

Lincoln Elementary School, home to the Bobcats, is preparing to step into the new school year. This year marks Principal Milton Collins’ 37th year in education. Of those, he has spent 27 years as a principal.

He said when kids know that you care, it is easy to teach them, no matter where they are coming from.

“You know, I’ve been doing this for so long, and I still get the butterflies,” Collins said.

Collins is the elementary school principal you always wanted. Singing the school anthem “Bobcats,” next week, he will be making his rounds and welcoming returning students, staff and teachers.

He will also be opening the door for new students, including a dozen or more who will be walking into an American school for the very first time.

“It can be very traumatic for kids the first time in a new country, in a new school around new people, and then you throw the language in there,” Collins said.

What could be overwhelming is something they as a school choose to celebrate instead.

“This is one of the things we’re most proud of when you walk into the building, that you walk past and see all the different representations of the different countries in which our kids come from,” Collins said.

Since he started as a principal in 2017, Collins said two dozen or more different languages are coming in with their new students.

“I mean, we got kids from Kenya, Costa Rica, Columbia, South Sudan — the list goes on and on,” Collins said.

He said the change he sees in the students is often night and day.

“I see these kids walking in. You can see the fear in their eyes, and within a couple weeks, you know, I’m going to visit them in these small groups and they’re walking up to me and saying, ‘Let me read to you!'” Collins said.

This year, with the change in the boundaries, he said there will be more Bobcats, with just over 500 enrolled students.

He said if students could only take one thing home at the end of the day, it is this: “It takes a village, and our school is one of those villages. … Come! We want you! We wanna teach you. We wanna make you feel welcome!” Collins said.

Soon, new students will be singing along with the “Bobcats” school anthem: “B-O-B RAWR! C-A-T-S!”

Collins said the kids get excited when new students come in, and as a school, they want to drive home welcoming those students with open arms.

Their first day at Lincoln Elementary is Aug. 16.

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South Salt Lake elementary school welcomes students from abroad