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Kids Get A Dose Of College Life

Elementary School Students Visit CCSU

April 30, 2005
BY SUSAN KANIA, Special To The Courant

NEW BRITAIN -- Fourth-grader Connie Ky, 9, seemed right at home as she strolled across the campus of Central Connecticut State University Friday.With her Dwight Elementary School classmate Tessa Ridel, also 9, at her side, she passed by the student center, a bubbling fountain and a science building before dancing under the lights on the Welte Auditorium stage.

"I'm happy to be back," said Connie, who was visiting the New Britain campus for the second time with Dwight students in kindergarten to fifth grade.

"We got to make up our own dance - it was kind of like a play, and it was really fun," she said.

More than 500 students from the school in Hartford's South End and several parents participated in the second annual whole-school college visit, through a partnership between Dwight and CCSU sponsored by the nonprofit Foundation for Excellent Schools. The foundation pairs schools in low-income communities across the country with nearby colleges and universities to help students begin their college preparation at an early age. The St. Paul Travelers and Kellogg foundations are also partners in the Dwight/CCSU program.

The college students also benefit from the collaboration: 40 CCSU students completed their student teaching or other field work at Dwight this year.

Dwight Principal Kathleen Greider said the partnership has led to heightened expectations at the school and made college preparation part of its everyday culture - starting in kindergarten.

"We want the students to realize that college is a real place, not just a mythical kingdom that they talk about at school," said Nancy Hoffman, CCSU professor of teacher education, who helped organize Friday's visit.

In addition to dancing, Dwight students visited the university's ceramics lab where they saw a kiln and pottery wheel and worked with clay. They watched theater students perform "Seussical the Musical" and learned about working with computer graphics and careers in technology.

Fourth-graders such as Fahrudin Omerovic, 11, and Jordan Lee, 10, said they wanted to return to CCSU another day when they heard about the campus observatory.

"I want to learn more about space and gravity," Jordan said.

When her second-grade class stopped at the CCSU library, avid reader and Harry Potter fan Antuanett Ortiz, 7, said it was the biggest library she'd ever seen. "It had so many books, I wouldn't know which one to choose," she said, after viewing the children's collection.

Other children played tambourines, triangles, bells, drums and other instruments, as CCSU music majors taught their fellow college students in a leadership program how to run a children's drum circle.

Miguel Valentin, who works as an auto body technician, was one of the Dwight parents who attended a presentation about preparing for college.

"I need as much information about going to college as possible to help my 6-year-old son," Valentin said. "I want to show him that there are bigger opportunities out there for him."

The parents heard about savings programs from representatives of Webster Bank, and how to continue their own education at Manchester Community College.

Third-graders from Vanessa Rollend's third-grade class already seemed well informed for a "Getting Ready for College" discussion with Karen Beyard, professor of Educational Leadership.

"We're learning to write essays," said Justine Rivera, 9. Her classmate Eros Diaz, 10, said they need to learn how to manage money before going to college.

"If you're a good reader and writer, and good at math, you're already halfway from Hartford to college," Beyard said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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