Ele­men­tary stu­dents dis­cover col­lege pos­si­bil­i­ties

Maryland Independent - - Front Page -

J.P. Ryon Ele­men­tary School fifth graders took in some col­lege cour­ses re­cently dur­ing a visit to the La Plata cam­pus of the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land.

Des­ti­na­tion Col­lege, a pro­gram that in­tro­duces ele­men­tary school-aged chil­dren to the uni­ver­sity ex­pe­ri­ence, has been held since 2011 in La Plata, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease. Cam­puses in Prince Fred­er­ick and Leonard­town also hold the pro­gram.

“It’s a pos­i­tive op­por­tu­nity for [stu­dents] to get think­ing about post-sec­ondary train­ing,” Julie An­drews-Walker, the ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant for the school’s busi­ness and tech­nol­ogy di­vi­sion, who pre­vi­ously co­or­di­nated Des­ti­na­tion Col­lege, said in the re­lease.

While or­ga­niz­ers stress an im­por­tance on sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics — STEM — ma­jors, Des­ti­na­tion Col­lege also fea­tures a stint in the the­ater and a class on learn­ing sign lan­guage. Learn to Sign is led by Heather Ze­olla, while Cur­tain, Lights, The­ater! is over­seen by Keith Hight, with ac­tiv­i­ties and back­stage tours led by the­ater ma­jors Alex LeClair, Joshua Pierre and Michael Rus­sell. Past field trips in­cluded tours of CSM’s tele­vi­sion stu­dio and trips to his­tory and en­gi­neer­ing classes, An­drews-Walker said. This year, James Graves’ Dare to Re­pair found stu­dents tak­ing a com­puter apart — then putting it back to­gether.

Ryon teacher Michael Curry said he and his class have been talk­ing about col­lege all year. Field trips like Des­ti­na­tion Col­lege ex­pand stu­dents’ minds.

“A lot of my boys want to be bas­ket­ball play­ers, foot­ball play­ers. And I tell them, ‘You can have your dream, but you need to have a backup plan,’” Curry said in the re­lease.

When asked how many of them are plan­ning on go­ing to col­lege, al­most all of Ryon’s vis­it­ing stu­dents raised their hands, said teacher Jennifer Davis, who has brought her class to CSM for the past four years.

“It piques their in­ter­est and shows them dif­fer­ent classes and in­stills in them a drive,” Davis said.

The im­por­tance of get­ting a de­gree or fur­ther train­ing af­ter grad­u­at­ing from high school is not lost on the fifth graders.

“You get a de­gree and a good job when you get out out school,” said Gavin Dob­bins, one of Curry’s stu­dents.


Ali­jah Jen­nings, left, Mark Brown, Ja­cob Keat­ing and Chris Turner work on build­ing a com­puter dur­ing Des­ti­na­tion Imag­i­na­tion at the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land. The J.P. Ryon Ele­men­tary School fifth graders were in­tro­duced to col­lege pro­grams dur­ing the visit, in­clud­ing a sign lan­guage class and tour of the the­ater arts de­part­ment.

J.P. Ryon Ele­men­tary School fifth graders Mekhi Matthews, left, Corey Phillips and Bryan Jaimes work on putting a com­puter to­gether dur­ing Des­ti­na­tion Imag­i­na­tion at the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land. The pro­gram in­tro­duces stu­dents to col­lege and var­i­ous fields of study.

Paige San­der­son’s stu­dents Kiara Thomas, left, and Is­abelle Mur­phy, J.P. Ryon Ele­men­tary School fifth graders prac­tice sign lan­guage dur­ing Des­ti­na­tion Col­lege at the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land. The pro­gram shows ele­men­tary school stu­dents fields of study col­lege has to of­fer.

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