Elementary school students experience college life at K-Day

By Alicia Adamczyk, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 9, 2012

Though the Diag is usually filled with 20-somethings on a typical weekday, about sixty 9 and 10 year-olds took over campus on Friday afternoon.

K-Day, a collaboration between K-Grams — a University program that pairs college students and elementary-aged children in a variety of mentoring activities — and the Big Ten Network, united students from two local elementary schools with University students Friday to partake in a slew of activities, ranging from a tour of the University of Michigan Museum of Art to a dance marathon in the Diag.

Between games of four-square and lunch in South Quad Residence Hall, the third graders from Ann Arbor’s Dicken Elementary and Detroit’s Dixon Elementary engaged in a jam-packed schedule filled with hands-on activities, including interactive chemistry experiments, an arts and crafts session, an athlete meet-and-greet and a tour of the dorms.

In addition to activities planned throughout the day, K-grams collected school supplies from University students to donate to disadvantaged schools in Ypsilanti and Detroit.

During the field day session of Friday’s events, kids jumped rope, chalked the Diag and received autographs from various University athletes, including members of the men’s swimming and diving team, the women’s track team and the Triathlon Club.

Education senior Roman Willets, a member of the men’s swim team, said K-Day was a great way for kids and University students to interact and learn from each other.

“It’s always a lot of fun for us with the kids,” Willets said. “But at the same time, any time they can meet some athletes, get some positive role models, that’s great.”

After Michigan Rhythm performed a tap-dance number, the University of Michigan Dance Marathon — a non-profit student organization that raises money for pediatric research — performed to a number of songs before teaching the kids a short dance. Though the youngsters danced along to all the songs, Nicki Minaj’s ‘Super Bass’ was by far the crowd favorite.
The a cappella group The Compulsive Lyres also serenaded the students with Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline,’ and Element 1, a Bboying/Bgirling club at the University, performed a crowd-pleasing break dance routine.

Phoenix Tanguay, a student from Ann Arbor’s Dicken Elementary, surprised everyone with a break dancing performance of his own. The third-grader drew a crowd of about 100 people as he flipped and 2-stepped in front of Hatcher Graduate Library.

Candice Weaver, a teacher at Dixon Elementary, said her students aren’t normally exposed to an atmosphere like that of the University and she thought the event was a great opportunity for them to learn about college life.

“They didn’t know what dorms were,” Weaver said. “When I told them ... they said ‘You mean they don’t sleep with their moms and dads?’”

Education junior Abby Ingall, one of the organizers of the day’s events, said she thought the day ran smoothly and hoped that K-grams would be able to expand the activities in future events.

“This is the first year we’ve been sponsored by the Big Ten Network,” Ingall said. “We’re trying to grow the program that way."

LSA sophomores Bryn Anderson and Becca Liebschutz, both members of K-grams, were in charge of the school supplies drive. Liebschutz said the collection was an important part of K-Day and she was happy to help.

“We’ve had our whole bin filled up (with supplies), plus three other bags,” Liebschutz said. “We’ve gotten a lot of response, which is nice.”