Franklin Pierce Schools

200 5th graders become college students for a day

They walked the beautiful campus. They attended classes on anthropology, mathematics, psychology/science, music, ecology, art, and physical education led by real college professors. They -- 200 5th graders from Brookdale, James Sales, and Christensen Elementary Schools -- became college students for a day.

Called the Parkland Education Project, the partnership between Franklin Pierce Schools and Pacific Lutheran University started out as a brainstorming session in December 2011 to explore the opportunities for partnering on an event like Tuesday's tour. Dr. Frank Kline, PLU's School of Education Dean, and Dr. Frank Hewins, Superintendent of Franklin Pierce Schools, started the conversation. They soon invited other leaders from their respective organizations to join the conversation. As planning continued, the focus on organizing a tour was broadened to include a mentoring program. Modeled after a program that Western Washington University calls Compass to Campus, it was decided that the 5th grade tour of PLU would be followed by an entire academic year of PLU students volunteering in 5th grade classrooms as tutors and mentors.

"Tuesday was the just the begininng," said Superintendent Hewins. "We're excited that the tour allows 5th graders to experience the hope and real possibility of attending college after high school, and the mentoring that will continue after the tour will reinforce that hope and possibility," said Hewins.

The District is hoping to expand the program to include other elementary schools next year and thereafter.

PLU Registrar Kris Plaehn addresses 5th graders.

Associate Professor Vidya Thirumurthy teaches a math lesson.

Caution: 5th Graders at work...

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