The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 23, 2010

Conneaut sixth-graders get hands-on experience at KSUA

By ELLEN KOLMAN - Staff Writer -

ASHTABULA — Conneaut sixth-grade students got a hands-on lesson on proper hand washing in the nursing department of the new Robert S. Morrison Health and Science Building at Kent State University-Ashtabula on Friday morning.

“Who wants to be a nurse?” asked assistant nursing professor Rowena Bautista of the sixth-grade students who sat expectantly inside the new nursing department. “It is a passion of a nurse to teach the proper way to wash your hands to prevent the spread of disease and infection.”

Students were surprised as Bautista exposed the germs on their hands, by shining a black light over them. The students then were given an opportunity to practice good hand-washing techniques and then see the results.

The nursing department workshop was just one of several breakout sessions the middle school students experienced at the college through the College by Six Program, made possible through a Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR-UP) grant awarded to Conneaut Middle School through the Ashtabula County Continued Education Support Services (ACCESS) office.

“I feel this is important for the students to see they can truly grow up to become whatever they want, through a wonderful college close by,” said Sara Gleason, GEAR-UP adviser at Conneaut Middle School. “The grant had to be designated to one school, and after doing research, we chose Conneaut.” “Conneaut School District has a high graduation rate, but less than half go on to post secondary education. We are hoping by exposing children to college at a young age, we can turn that around,” Gleason said.

The purpose of the program, which is in its fourth year, is to get the children exposed to higher education early, said John Roskovics, assistant principal of Conneaut Middle School.

“We consider ourselves very fortunate to have a chance to do this, I believe there are only seven GEAR-UP districts in Ohio. Our students receive a T-shirt, tour different classrooms and have a provided lunch,” Roskovics said. “All of the professors who participate in the program volunteer their time to do this for our students.”

The academic areas the students were exposed to included math, science, nursing, business, theater arts, library science, biology, English and physical therapy.

“I talk about college all the time to my students, but here they get to experience it, and many of them have never seen Kent-Ashtabula,” said J.C. Lenk, Conneaut Middle School teacher.

Kayla Masirovits has dreams of becoming a doctor or occupational therapist someday, and the sixth-grader was impressed with her visit to KSUA.

“In the biology class, we got to see the DNA of a strawberry. That was fun and different,” she said.

Student Aaron Ledlow was thrilled with what he had experienced throughout the morning, especially in biology.

“I got to touch a human brain and see some cells under a microscope,” he said. “I want to go to college. I want to be a carpenter and a cartoonist.”