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Crosby Scholars works with middle school students

With more than 1,300 Rowan-Salisbury middle school students in the program this year, Crosby Scholars is finding creative ways to ensure each one has exposure to the idea of education beyond high school.

“Our biggest initiative this year has been to go into the Rowan-Salisbury middle schools and play ‘The Crosby Scholars Game of Life’ with all grade levels,” explains Jennifer Canipe, Crosby executive director.

“This game, developed by Program Director Jessica Vess and Program Coordinator Krystal Stukes, emphasizes the link between choices and consequences. Students are put into situations where they are able to make choices and then are able to experience how those decisions might affect their future,” she said.

“We want all of the students in middle school, not just Crosby Scholars, to understand the importance of trying academically. The study habits and work ethic our middle schoolers develop now will help determine their success in high school and beyond,” Canipe added.

Crosby Scholars is also committed to helping its students learn more about colleges and possible careers.

Along with Banicca Watkins and Emily Harrison from Communities in Schools and the faculty and staff at Knox Middle and North Rowan Middle schools, Stukes implemented College Week, which included each school’s very own college fair.

The emphasis for both College Weeks was on building a college-going culture, and included college door decorating contests, teachers wearing t-shirts from their alma maters, and a “favorite college” shirt day for students.

Livingstone College cheerleaders helped build the excitement by awarding the prizes for the contests.

“Only 17 percent of our population over the age of 25 in Rowan County has a bachelor’s degree,” explains Canipe. “We are constantly looking for ways to partner within our schools to introduce the concept of college and get our students excited about it.”

Another way Crosby Scholars is building enthusiasm is with field trips, which highlight different career options. This year, a group of eighth-graders from China Grove, Corriher-Lipe, and Southeast Middle Schools got to choose between a trip to learn about NASCAR careers and health science occupations.

The NASCAR exploration trip included a tour of NASCAR’s research and development facility in Concord and a tour of the motorsports facilities at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The students learned about the many opportunities ranging from higher educational careers such as engineering to technical careers as machinists and tire technicians.

They also watched a safety test being performed on seat belts. The motorsports facility at the University of North Carolina at Charoltte is one of the most innovative “hands-on” programs in the Southeast. While there, students were exposed to educational opportunities that would lead to careers in sports marketing or motorsports engineering.

At the Cabarrus College of Health Sciences, students learned about career opportunities in health science fields such as occupational therapy, medical assisting and nursing.

Hands-on activities for this group included working with life-like patients in a hospital simulation room and learning the appropriate way to enfold and sterilize surgical instruments. The educational path for each career was discussed and the many degree options offered at Cabarrus College of Health Sciences were reviewed.

“We’ve purposely tried to plan a college or career enrichment activity at each middle school this year,” Canipe explained. “We’ve got Erwin Middle and West Middle on our schedule for next semester and are looking into some exciting possibilities for these students. What we’re doing is laying the foundation for the college-going culture that we’re hoping to build here in Rowan County.”

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