Dec. 17, 2007
By Linda Lockhart and Crystal Lorimor | Photo by Linda Lockhart
Students at Bridgeport High School didn't know what to expect when they were called to an all-school assembly first thing Friday morning. But they liked what resulted: an entire day devoted to classes and activities revolving around college life.
Ohio University-Eastern staged an invasion of BHS at the request of Principal Rob Zitzelsberger and guidance counselor Terry Rucker. Eastern campus faculty and staff conducted the day's classes and led informational sessions on related topics.
"We want to help every Bridgeport High School student know that they are college material and to get them started on the path to higher education," said event organizer Jennifer Kellner, Eastern campus' recruitment coordinator. "The students got to experience what a lecture by a university faculty member is really like and will hopefully be able to envision themselves as college students."
BHS is located in Belmont County, where the number of adults with bachelor's degrees is about 10 percent lower than the state average.
The day's regular class schedule was replaced with 10 half-hour sessions led by faculty members from exercise physiology, history, early childhood education and communications studies. The day also included sessions on financial aid, teens and debt, how to choose a major, plagiarism, fitness for life and group problem-solving.
"Interacting with high school students in this way is truly beneficial for everyone involved," said Sarah Mahan-Hays, associate professor of communication studies. "It allows the faculty, staff, and administration to showcase the opportunities that are available to the students locally at Ohio University-Eastern. Also, students get a small taste of what college life is like and they get answers to some questions about the college experience. Hopefully, it plants a seed in these high school students to start thinking about their futures and the importance of education."
During one session, Cheryl Brak, a staff member in the Eastern campus dean's office, guided students through scenarios in which each was assigned an occupation and the average salary for that job. Students learned the type of educational preparation required, discussed credit card use and were challenged to determine how to pay normal living expenses.
"The most surprising class was the one about teens and debt," sophomore Kayla Custer said of the session. "I didn't know it would take that much to live on."
A team of six students unanimously proclaimed that the group problem-solving session -- which required them to apply the scientific method to everyday tasks -- was their favorite of the day. They were especially appreciative when their teachers were called on stage at the end-of-the-day assembly to participate in one of the challenges they had conquered. The teachers, with limited tools and time, had to cross a fictional swamp without stepping in it. Students cheered their teachers on in the final seconds as they completed the task just under the wire.
The high school invasion was the second one engineered by the Eastern campus; a similar event was held at Martins Ferry High School last year. Word of the success spread, leading guidance counselor Rucker to invite OU-Eastern officials to do the same at Bridgeport High. Discussions are in the works to schedule events at two other area high schools yet this academic year.
"I'd like to do something like this every year," Rucker said. "Now that we know what we're doing, we can collaborate on more great ideas for this activity next time."
Faculty and staff conducting sessions were Kim Butler, exercise physiology; Donna Capezzuto, plagiarism; Crystal Lorimor, group problem-solving; Cheryl Brak, teens and debt; David Castle, history; Sherri Theaker, early childhood education; Kevin Chenoweth, financial aid; Kristen Burrier, how to choose a major; E.J. Schodzinski, fitness for life; and Sarah Mahan-Hays, communication studies, who was assisted by Eastern campus student Zach Thuring.
As an added bonus, BHS seniors could sign up for a drawing for a $1,500 Ohio University scholarship. Brandon Perko won the prize.