Sixth-graders congregate on campus

More than 2,200 sixth graders from around the valley made a field trip to the U Thursday as part of the Bennion Community Service Center’s Project Youth.

For Austin Schugk of Copper View Elementary, the field trip was “pretty good,” but not better than Lagoon.

Though Rico Snow, co director of the event, said all schools in the Salt Lake, Jordan, Murray and Granite school districts were invited, the focus was on Title I schools.

According to Snow, a Title I school is one that has at least 50 percent of its students receiving government funding to pay for school lunches.

“The assumption is that most of the parents [of these children] did not attend college…and that they would be first-generation college students,” Snow said.

Carolina Galvan and Fatima Hernandez are two students whose parents weren’t able to attend college. Their parents came from Argentina, El Salvador and Mexico.

Learning subjects in class without having been able to speak much English was a challenge for these two young girls from Backman Elementary, who both plan on going to college.

“It was pretty hard. You don’t know anybody,” Galvan said.

“You don’t know who to talk to,” added Hernandez, who arrived in Utah at age 7.

The two said they sometimes got discouraged.

Barbara Seitz, a teacher at Backman Elementary, said that some of the students from the school have dropped out by the time they hit junior high. “It’s a horrible feeling to have them [drop out],” she said. She sees students pulled out of class every once in a while to help around the house-many of which are single-parent homes.

But Seitz said she thinks that Project Youth helps some of her students.

“It’s great for them to see that all races are up here. It helps them see they too can succeed [and that] there are ways if they want to go.”

But that subject didn’t seem to be on the minds of too many pupils. They seemed more worried about enjoying themselves.

In the Huntsman Center, kids ran, yelled, teased, gabbed and grabbed. It was as if it were recess, and the Huntsman halls were their playground.

About 200 U students volunteered to keep the kids under control and to show them around campus between the 9:30 a.m. and noon.

Five excited girls from Liberty Elementary shouted in unison that they liked “everything” about the field trip.

Makayla Lowe, from Pleasant Green Elementary, said her favorite part of the tour was Marriott Library “because it’s so big.”

When asked if she could read all of the books in the library, she said, “Maybe in a thousand years probably, but not in one day.”

After the tour, the children gathered for a “Power Rally” where they viewed a slide show and were entertained and encouraged by keynote speakers to plan to attend college.

Anthony White, vice president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah, told the youth that famous athletes and presidents were all in sixth grade at one point, and that they were no different.

“Everyone has different obstacles that they don’t really control, but they can control academics and how far they want to pursue it,” White said.

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