Honors College students help local middle schoolers prepare for the PSAT

Leenika Belfield-Martin | Lifestyle Editor

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Courtesy of Adrianna Senn Yeun

The Freddye T. Davy Honors College’s service learning class hosted a PSAT workshop for Hampton middle schoolers Nov. 18.  The theme of the workshop was “Work hard, Play Hard,” as the students worked hard at the workshop then played hard at the HU vs. HU game.

Planning for the workshop began in early November. The students collaborated with middle schoolers from two nonprofit organizations called Diamonds and Pearls and Boyz II Men to help them plan the event.

This community service project was part of the UNV 200 service learning class. This class, taught by professor Candacé Jackson, emphasizes the importance of community service. It is a required course for honors college students.

Jackson is a 2006 graduate of Hampton University and began teaching this course two years ago.  She said the importance of the UNV 200 class is to teach college students their important role in the community.

“We are here to serve, and community service is an opportunity to do that.” Jackson said.

Amanda Jones, a second-year, five-year MBA major from Portsmouth, said that the most challenging part about hosting the event was the organization. “There were a few minor hiccups at the beginning, but all in all, it was informative and engaging session with the students,” she said.

The class persevered through technical difficulties during the process of organizing the event. “No matter what, this event was going to happen,” Jackson said. “Students were determined to help, and they filled gaps when necessary.”

The principal of C. Alton Lindsay Middle School, Cheverse Thomas, was gracious that the Honors students held the event for her middle schoolers. She said that this was the first time a college reached out to her school.

“Exposure is everything for these children. Some of them aren’t close with any college students or college graduates.” Thomas said.

The workshop began at 9:30 a.m. with an ice breaker for the middle schoolers.  Afterward, the children were given a light breakfast and split up into two groups. One group began with the PSAT section while the other group created vision boards.

Topics that the students learned during their PSAT session were common PSAT vocabulary words, test-taking strategies and resources that the middle schoolers can use to help them study for the PSAT. The college students also gave them advice about applying to colleges.

The middle schoolers got creatively ambitious and created vision boards. Some of the students dreamt of becoming professional athletes, cruise directors and the second African-American president. The honors college students and the middle schoolers had intense conversations about sports, school and music.

“What surprised me most about [the middle schoolers] was how informed they were about current events, and how they were able to thoroughly express their concerns and opinions about school and society,” said Jones.

After the event, the middle schoolers were able to watch the Hampton Pirates defeat the Howard Bison in the Battle of the Real HU.

Alexis Dillingham, who is a sixth-grader at Dozier Middle School, said that even though she isn’t sure what she wants to be when she grows up, the event got her pumped up for college.

“I really liked the icebreaker, and it was fun to meet other middle schoolers,” Dillingham said.

Both Jackson and Thomas would like the partnership between the college students and the middle schoolers to continue. One event that Jackson would like the future UNV 200 class to host is a day where they get people from the community to come to Hampton’s campus and learn the history about the university.

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