Fifth-graders check out college life

'I'm Going to College' program expands focus in third year

Posted: Thursday, May 11, 2006

The graduating class of 2013 got a chance this week to see what life could hold for them after high school.

The University of Alaska Southeast hosted fifth-grade classes from each of the Juneau School District's elementary schools for an "I'm Going to College" outreach event. Three of the schools attended classes at the university on Tuesday, while the other three schools experienced courses on Wednesday that ranged from math to diesel technology.

"They come away with the idea that college is possible," said Barbara Burnett, UAS director of financial aid and event coordinator.

Burnett said the event began as a way to encourage low-income students that pursuing a higher education is a possibility for anyone. Now in its third year, the program has expanded to involve fifth-graders from around the district to get a sneak-peek at college life.

"I think it broadens their horizons in terms of what's out there for them," said Sharon Denton, a fifth-grade teacher at Glacier Valley Elementary.

A number of university professors taught the students specially designed lessons in their field of discipline to help show the diversity of courses offered at the university. Students participated in three 45-minute long classes over the course of the day.

Daniel Monteith spent the day giving the students a hands-on overview of the four subdisciplines of anthropology - archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology and cultural anthropology.

"I just wanted to give them a taste of each one of the subdisciplines of anthropology and what anthropologists do to try and get them excited about going to college," Monteith said.

About a dozen students gathered around Monteith Wednesday afternoon as he taught them the difference between artifacts and pseudo facts, with objects ranging from obsidian tools to bone fragments.

"This is a great age to start piquing their interest and getting them interested in going to college," he said. "In the elementary grades, it's the best time to start preparing them."

Trevoer Williams, a fifth-grader at Glacier Valley Elementary School, said he enjoyed learning about the archaeology and getting to see the tools that were used in the past.

"I liked this class the best because we got to see artifacts," he said. "Yeah, it was really fun."

Williams said he wants to go to college and become a police officer.

Eleven-year-old Averi Cokeley, who wants to become a veterinarian, said it was fun getting to see the college environment.

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"I got to learn a lot of new stuff about what college is really like and sometimes how hard it can be and sometimes how easy it can be," she said.

The students not only walked away with a new experience, but they also received backpacks with a variety of school supplies, including dictionaries. After the classes were over, the students also received certificates during a mock graduation ceremony.

"I think it's a real powerful program," Denton said. "It would be interesting to follow-up on these students who have been involved and to see how many actually do choose college as a path."

Burnett said the event is another way to get more people from the community out to the university.

"UAS is more than just college kids coming out here. We do things for all sorts of ages, sometimes just because they are good things to do," she said. "We're not fooling ourselves that they're all going to come to UAS, but our hope is for them to think that some kind of higher education is possible and that they'll pursue it."

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