Through the Curriculum Program, AJB was partnered with a Big Ten school, Penn State, in University Park, Pennsylvania. Johani Johnson, AJB K-8 physical education and athletic director, completed an application for the program and AJB was one of the schools selected.
“Once selected, the Curriculum Program provides a variety of lessons that you can do with the middle school students. One focus of the program is for students to learn about the college experience especially for student athletes,” Johnson said.
AJB chose to use the curriculum provided for the specials classes. In music, the band learned to play the Penn State fight song, and the choir learned how to sing it. Art and Technology were combined, the students designed good luck cards, letters, and banners using different programs, and put together a Hallmark digital card. In physical education, the kids practiced basketball skills and learned how to calculate shooting percentages and other statistics.
“We took a virtual tour of Penn State. I was surprised by how many students didn’t understand the process to get into college,” Johnson said. “Two kids sitting by me at the game said they want to go to Purdue, which is where I went, so we were talking about it.
“They thought you just paid to get into college. I said, ‘You have to apply to get in. You have to have good grades. A college looks at a lot of things and decides if you meet its criteria.’ It was the start of a good conversation.”
The students who were able to travel to the Gainbridge Fieldhouse to watch the game, where Michigan State beat Purdue 73-69, were the students who did extra work. For instance, the band or choir members who learned how to play or sing the fight song and students who did design work or completed the statistical work in physical education.
“Some students had never been to downtown Indianapolis or been to the fieldhouse where the Indiana Pacers play. The middle school band students were excited to see a college band playing. They all loved watching the mascots, too. And some who didn’t necessarily care about basketball so much, really were excited by the end of the game,” Johnson said. “It’s a program that definitely helps students understand the college experience more.”
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