Dickinson Academy students explore GV campus

GVL / Meghan McBrady
Dickinson Elementary School visit

GVL / Meghan McBrady Dickinson Elementary School visit

Meghan McBrady

Wil Fredo loves reading – anything sci-fi or Rick Riordan related – and hates studying math. He enjoys studying science and conducting experiments and drawing conclusions from the problems he solves.

While he is somewhat indifferent to writing stories, he plans to major in film and video at Grand Valley State University once he turns 18.

“There is no doubt about it, I am going to be here in eight years,” he said.

Fredo, 10, is currently a student at Dickinson Academy, which is part of the Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS), an elementary and middle school for pre-K through eighth grade students.

As part of an ongoing partnership with GVSU, Dickinson brought some of its third, fourth and fifth graders to the Allendale Campus on Friday to experience what it is like to get a college education.

Malayna Hasmanis, a student senator for the Educational Affairs Committee, said her hope is that bringing the elementary students onto GVSU’s campus will inspire them to attend the university in the future.

“Usually this is 20 to 30 students, but we have had 76 students come this year, so it is a lot bigger,” Hasmanis said. “But it is really great because it is important for them to be inspired to gain a higher education one day.”

Hasmanis also noted that since Dickinson Elementary is an inner-city school, it is important that they have access to programs like GVSU because it establishes outreach within the community and will then see the benefit of working with college campuses.

“A lot of people don’t really know what Dickinson is, because if you are not downtown you really don’t know the school systems unless you are a teaching major,” she said. “But this partnership helps because they really don’t have the funding for things like this and struggle a lot, which attributes to them being inner-city.”

The schedule for the Friday event included a visit to the Kelly Family Sports Center, where they participated in different physical activities and games facilitated by volunteers. The young visitors conducted a science project with the Women in STEM group. They also participated in a literacy and reading program with Jill Warren, learning how to create literature charts and story pyramids.

Warren, a professor of English language arts, said the university has these different events to help the students get excited about learning and further expanding their educational horizons.

“The idea is for them to see what college looks like,” Warren said. “It’s not just the fitness center, getting a sweatshirt – it’s to show that they can really go home and say that ‘I just sat in on a college class and that is exactly what I want.’”

She said the overall enthusiasm the children displayed – the want and joy of further exploring GVSU’s Allendale Campus – will then bring Dickinson Academy and GVSU into closer contact, as they continue to work with the Dickinson Academy faculty to inspire and guide its students.

For students like Fredo, they cannot wait to come back to GVSU and explore everything that it has to offer, Hasmanis said.

“I can’t wait to see the library,” he said. “I feel like I’m going to have a lot of fun times when I come here.”

For more information about Dickinson Academy, visit www.grpublicschools.org/dickinson.