Fourth-graders visit Texas A&M and University of Texas at Austin

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It’s never too early to get students excited about college. Shadowbriar and Mading elementary schools took fourth-grade students on college visits recently. Close to 150 Shadowbriar students, teachers, and staff, as well as some alumni parents, traveled to Texas A&M University (TAMU), and 55 Mading students went to University of Texas at Austin (UT).

“My favorite thing was walking around the campus,” said one Shadowbriar student. “I really want to go there for college. My dad came with us because he went there. Gig ‘em Aggies!”

Shadowbriar students visited TAMU Memorial Student Center, Kyle Field, Sterling C. Evans Library, and the Academic Building and Plaza, where they saw a replica of the Liberty Bell. They also visited the Century Tree, a 100 year-old live oak, about which it is said that if you walk under the old tree with someone, you will be with them forever. They learned about unique traditions such as Silver Taps, a monthly ritual involving a 21-gun salute that honors students who have passed away.

They posed for a picture with the statue of Lawrence Sullivan “Sul” Ross, who was TAMU president in 1891 and learned that the character of “Sulley” in “Monsters Inc.” was named in honor of Sul Ross. They also dined in Duncan Hall with the Corps of Cadets and played near Kyle Field.

The Mading students’ campus tour included visiting dorm rooms and the Student Athletic Center, where they could try rock-climbing or play basketball, volleyball, or tackle an obstacle course. They saw Daryl K. Royal Memorial Field, and had lunch at one of the student cafeterias.

“The trip to UT was the best one of my entire life,” one Mading student wrote in an essay about the field trip.

Both trips were funded throughLinked Learning, an educational approach that combines rigorous academics with hands-on learning and the opportunity to apply classroom knowledge to real-world experiences. HISD’s Linked Learning Dept. launched its pilot phase this school year in eight high schools and their feeder pattern schools — a total of 38 campuses. Linked Learning will eventually be at 119 HISD campuses.

This pre-K through 12th-grade blend of college and career readiness is funded in part by a $30 million, five-year federal Race to the Top District grant. Thanks to the RTTT-D funds, students in fourth, sixth, ninth, and tenth grades will have the opportunity to visit college campuses and local industries through the 2017-2018 school year.