Auburn eighth-graders get a taste of college life

With some parts of the state suffering a 30-percent high school dropout rate, the Washington Council for High School and College Relations recently decided to do something about it.

Two eighth-grade girls from Meridian Middle School

With some parts of the state suffering a 30-percent high school dropout rate, the Washington Council for High School and College Relations recently decided to do something about it.

Last week, rockers, rappers and teachers converged on hundreds of Auburn, Kent and Highline school district students at Green River Community College with a simple message for their young ears: high school involvement is critical to your future education, so take charge of what happens to you in high school.

Janet Holm, who helps coordinate the event, said 8th Grade College Exploration Day was really about “getting to these students before they give up on high school.”

One sure fire road into the hearts and minds of the kids was to bring in young musical acts like SubRocket, a talented band of eighth-graders out of Enumclaw, to blast out their original tunes at full volume and to share what students need to do in high school to prepare for college.

Zach Holm, a student at Eastern Washington University, rapped in a video about math and talked about his own high school days. He suggested students think of their high school experience as soda fountain with lots of drinks to try and to mix.

“I got involved in as many different clubs and as many different activities as I could, and I had an awesome time,” said Holm, a.k.a. Tha Duke, encouraging students to do likewise. “There is something out there for everybody.”

Students attended workshops and met with representatives from 30 state universities, community and technical colleges, including the University of Washington, Washington State University and Cornish College of the Arts.

Ruthie Schindler, Pierce College District outreach manager, led one of the workshops at which she presented students a limited amount of play money with instructions to stretch it to meet all their student needs.

It was an eye opener for a clutch of girls from Meridian Middle School.

“It’s good,” said a student named Leslie, who cracked that the lesson she learned in the workshop was “don’t spend your money.”

“This is an opportunity for the kids to be on a college campus to explore how the colleges are laid out, to talk to different college representatives about programs and to educate them about the two-year and the four-year process,” Schindler said. “In this class, we play the money game, which teaches them to budget their money so that they’ll know that the further they go with their education, the greater the potential will be for their income to increase.”

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