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January 31, 2014

Starting young: Columbia students tour IUK

College program for fifth-graders relaunched

Fifth graders at Columbia Elementary performed an experiment, played doctor and listened to an astronomer talk — all while learning about college.

Students toured Indiana University Kokomo Wednesday as a part of the recently restarted “Gotta Go,” a college visit program for fifth-graders at Columbia Elementary.

While at IUK, students split in groups — some participated in a science experiment while others “played doctor” at the nursing simulation center, learned about financial aid and talked to an astronomer at the observatory.

The visit was made possible with the help of State Senator Randy Head and State Representative Bill Friend. Head and Friend worked together to provide the transportation funding to restart the “Gotta Go” program this year.

The program, which teaches college basics and encourages students to pursue higher education, was launched several years ago after a fifth-grade field trip to a Purdue University football game showed a majority of students didn’t have any knowledge of college, Liz Loposser, principal at Columbia Elementary, said.

That’s because a vast majority of students didn’t have close relatives who attended college, Loposser said.

“We found encouraging them to have dreams of attending college and getting a job they want didn’t have an effect because they didn’t understand any of the vocabulary,” Loposser said.

Staff knew students would be prepared if they had an understanding — which resulted in the formation of “Gotta Go.”

The program came to a halt about four years ago because of funding, but with the help of Head and Friend, it has been re-launched. The revamped smaller-scale version will involve the students visiting both Ivy Tech and IUK during the school year.

In addition to Wednesday’s visit to IUK, fifth grade students recently toured Ivy Tech and Logansport High School to see what opportunities are available.

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