Last Thursday, 120 elementary school students filled the Turret for a day of interactive learning that allowed them to get acquainted with Wilfrid Laurier University.
Four classes of students in grades five and six were invited for The Community Outreach Event with Wilson Avenue Public School, which was organized by the Laurier Sociology Student Association (LSSA).
Inspiration for the event sprouted from a comment made by the former president of the University of Waterloo, and current Governor General, David Johnston. During his presidency, Johnston noted that the two universities in Waterloo didn’t do well in attracting local youth to their institutions.
Lucy Luccisano, a sociology professor at WLU, was discussing this with some students and subsequently decided to plan an outreach event for elementary school students in Kitchener-Waterloo.
“Probably the majority of our students are born outside of Canada,” explained Kris McGee, a teacher at Wilson Avenue Public School.
“They might not realize that university or college is even an option for them, so this is just the first door for them to see what it could be like and what they can strive to attain in the future.”
Beyond introducing the students to a university environment, McGee said the aim was also to help teach life skills through the activities which they participated in.
“There’s some direct connection to our curriculum which justifies and ensures that our students are receiving some quality programming,” she said.
Fourth year honours sociology students, Chelsea Paul and Donya Mosleh, coordinated the event. Paul emphasised that the event was meant “to get [students] thinking critically about school and their education.” However, she also touched on the practical element that it provided for the volunteers.
“I think it was just great to be able to see such a diverse group of students,” she said. “To take the things that we’ve learned about in the classroom and see it in reality.”
The 15 to 20 volunteers who helped out at the event were not just from the sociology department. Presentations were also given by music students, as well as student athletes about their experiences at Laurier.
Paul explained that a mini JUMP lecture was given, followed by interactive activities which allowed students to apply the knowledge they gained.
Students were then given a tour of the campus by Laurier Student Ambassadors.
When asked if she would bring students back if another outreach event was held in the future, McGee responded, “Absolutely. We were just talking about that as teachers, and we would even bring the same students and expose them a second time to it.”
McGee went on to express her impression of the day.
“The Laurier students . . . are absolutely dedicated,” she said. “They have professional outlooks on everything that they’re doing. The whole day’s been great.”