5th-graders visit UW-Green Bay for ‘Phuture Phoenix’ program

Program brings kids to campus, fuels ambitions

By Patti Zarlingpzarling@greenbaypressgazette.com

Taken From the Green Bay Press Gazette: http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20101013/GPG0101/10130686/Photos-Phuture-Phoenix-5th-graders-visit-UWGB

October 13, 2010

Fifth-grader Alexandra Williams said she wants to be an artist and may some day attend the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay after graduating from high school.

“It’s really great,” she said about the college campus.

Williams, who attends Green Bay’s Beaumont Elementary School, joined hundreds of other local fifth-graders Tuesday as part of the Phuture Phoenix program to get a taste of college life at UW-Green Bay.

Phuture Phoenix is a program aimed at raising college aspirations for students from low-income schools. The program includes a campus tour as well as classroom visits and mentoring sessions to encourage students to do well in school and attend college.

More than 900 students from Green Bay, West De Pere and the Oneida Tribe of Indians schools visited the campus on Tuesday. The program on Thursday will welcome about 500 students from other districts, including Sturgeon Bay and Oconto.

“This gives them a sense of why they’re in school and gets them thinking about ‘What do I want to do?’” said Sheila Reynolds, a fifth-grade teacher at Keller Elementary in Green Bay. “We also have professionals come in to the classroom to talk to the kids about their jobs and what they studied in school. We’ve had someone from the FBI, a district attorney and a chef. The kids get really excited.”

Students wore neon green T-shirts with a Phoenix logo on front and the words “College Bound” on the back. They were escorted through campus by UWGB student mentors and visited art classes, chemistry classes and toured the student union, residence halls and more.

“It’s great that they get to see the options out there for them,” said UWGB student and mentor Emily Walker, who is studying education. “It’s great to see how excited they are.”

Phuture Phoenix, which began in 2003, has connected with more than 10,000 students, according to UWGB. The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire started a similar program last year, and Silver Lake College in Manitowoc plans to replicate the program as well.

“We know a college education helps to break the cycle of poverty and that’s critical to (a student’s) future,” program Director Kim Desotell said .

Linda Acevedo, a teacher’s assistant at Howe Elementary in Green Bay, said the experience is good for the fifth-graders.

“It’s great they get to experience what college is,” she said. “They’re at that point in life where they at least start thinking about what they want to do in life. This is the first time on a college campus for most of them. They get to see how busy and big a college campus is, they’re learning a lot.”

Howe fifth grader Ricardo Perez appeared ready to sign up.

“It’s awesome,” said Perez, who plans to study science in college someday. “They have everything here. I love it.”