C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School Students Attend CSM for a Day to Experience Destination College

November 30, 2022

The following story was provided by Charles County Public Schools

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Fifth grade students at C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School try their hand at college for a day at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) at Destination College. Photo by CCPS

The weekend before Thanksgiving break, the students on the College of Southern Maryland’s (CSM) La Plata campus looked a bit younger than usual. 

“I want to go to college in California,” Kayshawn Woodman, fifth grader at C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School said. “I want to be a race-car driver, a gamer and to own my own company.”

After sitting in CSM Professor Chris Ripley’s class — How to Start Your Own Business — Woodman said he aspires to go into business with his parents’ companies. Woodman, among other students from Barnhart, was excited to attend college for a day at CSM’s Destination College experience.

“The students are excited to be on the campus and to see student life,” Virginia Basquez, fifth grade teacher at Barnhart said. Destination College is a Title I districtwide initiative, with all 10 Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Title I schools sending fifth graders to CSM for this experience. 

Each year, fifth-grade students at CCPS Title I schools can attend Destination College at CSM to try their hand in the college classroom for a day. The initiative fulfills a Title I requirement outlined in the Title I application. The initiative ensures that elementary-aged students will have access to the proper resources that will prepare them for careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field.

“The opportunity allows elementary aged students to branch out and explore careers as well as give them a long-range goal to see themselves in a career in the future,” Arin Bonner, CCPS director of Title I, said. “CCPS has partnered with CSM for this opportunity for over 11 years and will continue to provide the same access to succeeding fifth graders at all CCPS Title I schools.” 

Upon arriving on the campus, students are welcomed by CSM staff and students and are briefed on what to expect that day. Barnhart students would spend the entire school day on the college campus attending sessions like T.J. Reim’s Lumpy Liquid presentation in science, Ripley’s business class and CSM Professor Joe Burgin’s coding class.

Students would also eat lunch with their peers on campus, communing out in the school’s courtyard, just like a higher education student. Barnhart fifth graders look forward to spending the day at the college to see a glimpse of the possibilities of their future.

“Some of the students do not really experience going to college or have other people in their family who go to college,” Kim Miller, fifth grade teacher at Barnhart, said. “It opens their eyes to the opportunities that await them—even though they are only in fifth grade—they have it in the back of their minds that this is achievable.” 

“A lot of these fifth graders have a dream to go to college. I think it is inspiring and motivating for them to see and get a taste of what they can look forward to,” Basquez said. “A lot of them are taking notes on how exciting it is.”

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