Summer 1998

A Taste of Things to Come

by Rob Herzog

"We just passed another dogwood!" shouted one student as the group climbed the trail out of the woods back to the parking area. Two days before, he was like many urban kids and couldn't tell a dogwood tree from a pine tree.

The ten students at Pine Hills Nature Preserve outside of Crawfordsville were part of the College's LIFE (Lilly Initiative for Education) Partnership Summer Program in June. They discovered many of the fine details of the world around them that week-and not just during their biology field trip. During the daily art class, Professor of Art Doug Calisch prompted them to look at the contrast and composition of objects around them and recreate it in charcoal and pencil drawings. "Even though most of the students have no formal art training," says Calisch, "they took it very seriously."

In all, 19 high school students from Pike High School (Indianapolis) and 21 high school students from South Montgomery High School (Crawfordsville) received a first-hand look at the college experience by spending a week at Wabash. They went to classes taught by Wabash professors, used College facilities, and stayed in Morris and Wolcott dormitories.

Taking a week out of busy summers, and a week off from jobs, signaled their dedication to one important thing-making it to college. Dorothy Lee, a junior at Pike, could barely afford the time to come to the program. During the year, she works two jobs on top of going to school, regularly putting in eighteen hour days. Vowing to be the first woman president, she appreciates the head start on college planning that the LIFE program has given her. "We've learned how to start getting prepared for college," she says. She wants to attend Purdue, Harding University, or Oklahoma Christian University.

The LIFE program is directed toward students whose parents did not attend college with the goal of helping those students become college-bound. To attain that goal, part-time counselors were hired by the College and are working with students in grades seven through twelve in the Pike and South Montgomery districts.

Jamie Prezzy, a senior at Pike, knew he wanted to go to college but didn't know where to start. "I wouldn't have known what tests to take, or what classes to take to get ready for college without the LIFE counselors," Prezzy says.

The week-long mini-college at Wabash capped a year of involvement with the Pike Township and South Montgomery school systems that included counseling sessions, college visits, and trips to cultural events.

During the week at Wabash, students experienced the smaller seminar-like atmosphere of Wabash classes. It was an atmosphere where students discussed literature, political science, and psychology in a way that the high school experience hadn't afforded them.

"The teachers treated us like college students," says Prezzy, who plans to attend IUPUI next year and then maybe transfer to Wabash. Veronica Maddox, a senior at Pike, particularly enjoyed the psychology course taught by Assistant Professor of Psychology Lou Sherburne. "We did more than just read psychology studies and discuss the findings. We talked about why the study was done, and what it meant."

The students also received study assistance from Wabash students, three of whom stayed on campus to help with the program even after their graduation-Luttrell Levingston '98 and Dave Barrett '98, Theo Johnson '98, and Eric Dieter '99.

Jamie Watson, Director of the LIFE Partnership, is pleased with how things went in June.

"Given the opportunity to sample college life, students faced challenges and experienced some measure of success. Each time these students have a positive experience on a college campus, they are one step closer to envisioning themselves as college students."

Without question, Indiana and Wabash will be better places because of it.

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