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Local History

Drury Program Gives Minority Teens a Taste of College

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Although school is out for the summer, some high school students are spending a week at Drury University to experience college life. Drury’s Summer Scholars program gives young, African-American teenagers an opportunity to plan ahead for an academic future. KSMU’s Kristian Kriner visited an acting class, which is a new addition to the program this year.

Yelling and stomping echoed through the halls at Drury University as 15 girls played acting games in a theater class.

This week, two dozen 9th and 10th graders from Central High School will live on the Drury campus and attend daily classes like this one.

Each student was nominated by his or her teacher and will continue to attend this summer program until graduation.

Bruce Callen is the chair of the Physics Department and one of the founders of the Summer Scholars Program.

He says all of these students have not had the opportunity to understand what college can be like.

“I think what we’re really after is to give them a collegiate experience, help them understand what goes on at college, the kind of independence, the kind if excitement, the kind of self-reliance that college gives you and promotes. And the good things that come from that experience,” Callen said.

The Summer Scholars program is funded by a grant from The Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

Callen says the students will attend chemistry, poetry, local history and photography classes, in addition to theater.

Jenisha Fewell, a 10th grader, says she thought acting class was going to be hard or really boring, but she says she ended up really liking it.

Now, she’s really looking forward to photography class.

“Probably photography, that’s probably the one that I’m most excited about, because I like taking pictures. Not of myself but of other things,” Fewell said.Fewell says she’s not used to being away from her family, but she says she’s having fun.

The students will also have a chance to learn about Springfield’s African-American history from local leaders who had roles in the Civil Rights movement.

Callen says he wants each student to walk away from this experience knowing that he or she has the capability to go to college.

“We hope that they go home and say, ‘That was a great week. I want to go back next year and I want to talk with you about what it’s going to take for me to get to college,’” Callen said.

He says next week Drury will be hosting another session with 7th and 8th graders from Pipkin Middle School.

This is the first year for girls to take part in the Summer Scholars program.

For KSMU News, I’m Kristian Kriner.