Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Charter school students get a taste of college life

Nearly 100 Highline Academy 7th and 8th grade students spent the day at the University of Denver on Oct. 20. During the field trip, Highline students met with approximately 30 DU students, both undergraduates and graduates, who shared their college experiences.

“DU students explained how they got to college, why they came to DU and their involvement at DU,” says graduate student Tamarae Ellis, a higher education major who helped facilitate the event.

Tours of the campus and residence halls along with college-like classroom lectures offered the Highline students insight into the collegiate experience. Rachel Griffin and two of her Intercultural Communications students, freshman Sarita Hovemann and senior Chris Opfer, led an academic session about the importance of public speaking. The interactive class included a collage-making session during which Highline students created representations of college life.

Seventh grade student Sheldyn Merrell came to DU last year with two other Highline students during a pilot program. She says that visit focused more on how to get into college, but this time they visited more classes.

“I’ve learned it’s a choice whether you want to go [to college] and that you get to pick your classes,” Merrell says.

She says she wants to attend college out of state to experience living in another place. Merrell plans to be a marine biologist or businessperson.

The first-time event came about through a partnership between DU and Highline Academy supported by a $6,968 DU Public Good grant. The Highline Academy College Preparatory Collaborative project strives to provide access and opportunity to higher education for high achieving underrepresented students. Education Assistant Professor Frank Tuitt spearheads the project.

Highline students spent a week preparing for their visit by talking about college, how long it takes to earn degrees and why it is important to go. The field trip concluded with a dinner for students and their parents. Highline Academyserves approximately 400 students in grades K–8 and has a multicultural focus that reflects the diversity of the school’s population.

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