Elementary students discover college possibilities
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.