Detroit students connect with KU

It’s a long way from inner city Detroit to the rolling wheat fields of Kansas.

But for students in one ‘Motor City’ high school, Thursday provided a long-awaited opportunity for a face-to-face meeting with some of their biggest supporters.

Through the Adopt-A-College program, a group of 11th graders at Eaton Academy in Detroit selected the KU Audio Reader Center as a service project. It’s a relationship that’s provided much more than boxes of Jayhawk gear.

Today members of the KU Audio-Reader development committee gathered around a camera, and looking back at them, were students from a high school in Detroit.

Their teacher’s father is a gardener and volunteer for the center, which provides volunteers to read newspapers and books to the blind over special radio frequencies.

“They wanted to do a community service project in their area,” Bob Lantry said of the start of the connection. “[My daughter] said, what should we do? I said I know of a great organization down here named Audio-Reader.”

Patty Mathews, a volunteer at the center for nearly twelve years, sent the children a old KU vest. It has been the most popular item received by the students. “This is so rewarding,” Mathews said. “I love being associated with young people, young ideas. It’s my pleasure.”

During the Internet conference call the students performed a rap, in which they chanted “Clinkity-Clank I’m going straight to KU with my piggy bank.” Audio-Reader also brought in Baby Jay and Claire Penzler, a member of the KU Rock Chalk Dancers, to teach the students the famous Rock Chalk chant.

“I know they live in a tough area of town,” Lantry said. “Several of them walk to school in the morning when it’s dark. This charter school is their safe haven.”

The center has sent boxes of Kansas shirts and University gear to the students — who thanked the group for changing their lives.

“I feel happy and lucky that we have been a part of that,” Lantry said.