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Students connect

University students and grade schoolers take part in activities together

Northern Michigan University student Piper Strehlow plays cards with Mason Durocher, a third-grader at K.I. Sawyer Elementary School. NMU students visited Sawyer on Tuesday to allow college students to mingle with grade schoolers. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

K.I. SAWYER — University students mingled with grade schoolers on Tuesday at K.I. Sawyer Elementary School in a change of pace from a day’s typical activities.

Northern Michigan University students came to Sawyer to take part in fun activities with third-graders in the classrooms of teachers Linda Wagner and Corrina Degler.

NMU and Sawyer students previously have participated in activities with each other, such as the Agriculture in Education event that took place in September at the Jacobetti Complex on the NMU campus.

“This is a new group of NMU students who are future teachers,” Wagner said.

One classroom project that was to be shared with NMU students, she noted, was the grade schoolers’ acrostic poems.

“They write their name down, and then they describe themselves using the letters,” Wagner said. “They’re going to give those to their ‘buddy.'”

For example, a boy named Antonio would write A-N-T-O-N-I-O, with each line beginning with each initial.

The two classrooms split into four groups to take part in the activities, which included coloring and playing games such as Connect 4 and chess.

Maybe it wasn’t just about playing the actual games but instead of one generation relating to another.

For instance, NMU student Piper Strehlow, a sophomore studying elementary education and integrated science, showed card tricks to Sawyer student Mason Durocher.

Strehlow asked the boy if he knew any card games.

“Me and my dad play war,” he answered.

Strehlow could relate to that.

Such regular conservation took place throughout their card activity.

Wagner pointed out that not all the students were studying elementary education.

“They get to taste a little more of what college is,” Wagner said, “and give them more desire to reach for that goal.”

Sawyer students were to watch for the NMU Checker bus pulling into their parking lot through their windows.

It had an anticipatory effect.

Wagner provided an anecdote of the last time NMU students arrived.

“One of the students saw it and said, ‘Wow, what’s that?'” Wagner noted. “I said, ‘Oh, our buddies have arrived.'”

The NMU contingent had traveled in a big bus.

“They said, ‘That’s not a bus, that’s a plane without wings,'” Wagner said.

The Sawyer kids also helped lead a tour of their school for the university students on Tuesday.

Degler believes it’s good to promote partnerships such as the one between NMU and Sawyer Elementary.

“The tour makes it so the children can take responsibility for the school and show off what they’re proud of,” Degler said, “and then being able to speak to the adults and tell the adults information makes them feel in charge, and it helps them start their relationships.”

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.