Archive for Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Detroit students on field trip to KU

Makala Williams, a senior at Eaton Academy charter school in Eastpointe, Mich., works her way around a corner as she and her classmates climb the rock wall at the Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center on the campus of Kansas University. The students, who have raised funds for KU’s Audio-Reader program, were able to experience some of the highlights of college life. They are staying on campus and visiting local and area attractions this week.

Makala Williams, a senior at Eaton Academy charter school in Eastpointe, Mich., works her way around a corner as she and her classmates climb the rock wall at the Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center on the campus of Kansas University. The students, who have raised funds for KU’s Audio-Reader program, were able to experience some of the highlights of college life. They are staying on campus and visiting local and area attractions this week.

June 17, 2009

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Detroit teens raise money for Audio-Reader program

A group of inner-city Detroit teens developed a special relationship with the KU Audio Reader Program. Enlarge video

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip that is changing the lives of some Detroit teenagers.

“A lot of these kids have never left Michigan,” said Cecilia Holland, academic adviser at Eaton Academy in Eastpointe, Mich. “This is their first time out of the state. This is a chance to expose them to things they’ve only seen on TV or heard about.”

A group of 26 students from the charter school are spending this week on the Kansas University campus after the school adopted KU for a class project.

The students, who just completed their junior year, devoted the past year to raising money for Audio-Reader, which provides services to visually impaired people. Eaton English teacher Joni Lantry Kostich brought up the idea. Her dad is a volunteer for Audio-Reader.

“I want to express how important this is to my students,” Lantry Kostich said. “So many of them see little hope for leaving Detroit and have very little expectation from the world around them.”

Her students embraced the idea, holding every sort of fundraiser they could think of to raise money for the organization.

“It’s actually something we wanted to do,” Eaton student Bre’Shawnna Cobb said. “We’ve been pushing, pushing, pushing, trying to do as much as we can for Audio-Reader.”

Now the students are getting something back.

KU is hosting the students for a weeklong visit. They arrived in Lawrence on Monday night, checking into Ellsworth Hall after a 16-hour bus ride.

It’s part of the school’s “no excuses” program, trying to ensure every student is college-bound.

“We’re trying to make college more of a reality for the students by giving them exposure to the universities, because for a lot of them, they may be the first one in their home to even consider college,” said Jessica Smith, Eaton guidance counselor.

No one in Britney Jackson’s family has attended college, and she had never before left Detroit. Already, after spending just one day on the KU campus, Jackson thinks college is a very real possibility. The 16-year-old wants to be a pediatrician.

“I would be the first (in my family) attending,” Jackson said. “I want to go out of state, but the way tuition is looking, I really don’t know, but I will have Kansas as a choice.”

Tuesday the students toured campus, attended presentations about financial aid and admissions, and attended a cookout at Audio-Reader.

Today, their activities take them to Topeka, and include touring the Kansas Capitol, meeting Gov. Mark Parkinson and touring the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. Thursday, they’ll go to Kansas City to visit the KU Medical Center, tour the Negro League Baseball Museum and attend a Kansas City Royals game, before heading home Friday.

Eaton Academy Principal Thomas White said the program has been an incredible experience for his students.

“We want to thank KU. This has been fantastic, the way they’ve embraced us, opening their arms to our students and our school,” White said. “It’s real to them now, it’s tangible. They’ve seen it, they’ve touched it, they’ve walked the campus, and now when they go back to the school for their senior year, they can actually get down to business so they can achieve their dreams.”

Comments

ClaroAtaxia 6 years ago

KU should be commended for this! I came from a family with no prior college graduates, and I can definitely say that navigating through everything my first year at KU was very overwhelming. If I would have had more exposure to campus as a sophomore or junior I would have been much more prepared going in. High Schools really really need to do a better job of preparing you for college and life in general. Great job KU! (I don't get to say that much, lol)

d_prowess 6 years ago

Yeah, this is good stuff. Nice job to all involved!

invent 6 years ago

Very cool story!

I hope they all come back here for college.

Nick Combs 6 years ago

Yes, nice story and all, but how does one gain access to that wicked looking rock wall as a non-KU student?

Rashamon 6 years ago

"A lot of these kids have never left Michigan" "trying to ensure every student is college-bound" "they may be the first one in their home to even consider college"

I love stories about impoverished unenlightened children discovering the light of college.

please tell them about their $80,000 loan? or do they have a rich uncle?

average 6 years ago

Good to hear. A lot of things could be added to such a program.

My idea would be to have the class e-mail with a few KU students with some different and realistic paths. Someone who came back after quitting. Someone with a kid. Someone who did Juco at KCKCC for two years. Someone who's in ROTC or going through on GI Bill. And have the class actually meet those students in Lawrence, after interacting for a year.

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