Elementary Students Get Taste of College
At ASU, young students watch some hoops, learn about university
Eugene Scott, The Arizona Republic
January 19, 2007

*Article reprinted with permission from the Arizona Republic.*

Hundreds of Valley students got to play hooky from elementary school Thursday to watch Arizona State University's women's basketball team play UCLA and get a taste of college life.

The game was the first meeting of ASU and UCLA since the Sun Devils lost to the Bruins in the semifinals of last year's Pac-10 tournament. ASU won by 40 points.

The game was purposely scheduled for 11 a.m. to allow students to attend.

Access ASU, an initiative that partners with local school districts to expose grade school students to higher education as early as possible, hosted the game called "Sparky's Kids to College Field Trip."

The trip was intended to teach students that pursuing higher education can be fun and beneficial.

"Going to college is going to help me learn how to be a doctor, so I can help people in the Army with injuries," said Reina Ramos, a sixth-grader at Pueblo del Sol Middle School in Phoenix. "And seeing the Sun Devils play is good and nice."

Some students who attended the game received a workbook that turned the game into a lesson. The workbooks featured math, geography, English and science.

But in addition to being educational, the game was lots of fun.

The kids traded school lunch for the concession stands, did "the wave" and viewed a brief game among mascots including ASU's Sparky, the Phoenix Mercury's Scorch, and Ronald McDonald.

Several got a chance to shoot a few baskets to compete for prizes, and others got their faces painted.

Kimberlee Turberville, whose son, Preston, is a sixth-grader at Sun Valley Elementary in Peoria, said while the event was fun, it was also a lesson in public behavior.

"Coming here teaches them how to be respectful and behave appropriately in public and to take their education seriously," she said. "It's very important to expose them to higher education as early as possible."

Following the game, the Sun Devils and cheerleaders gathered to thank the students for coming and encouraged them to excel academically.

"Study hard and read your books," Kirsten Thompson, a sophomore center for ASU, told the kids.

Teachers said the visit to one of the most populated college campuses in the country definitely sparked students' interest in post-secondary education.

Many students were asking questions that they would have never asked, having never been on a college campus before, said Eric Brooks, a fifth-grade teacher at Galveston Elementary in Chandler.

"College is kind of an abstract idea for a fifth-grader without actually seeing it up close," he said.

Mesa sixth-grader Kylee Clark doesn't know what she wants to study in college yet, but she knows she wants to go.

"It's fun being here cheering for the team. And this seems like a great school to go to," she said. "I'll just keep working hard on my grades and listening to things my teacher says so I can go somewhere like here."

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