College keeps youths busy

Grace Helton held up a University of North Carolina T-shirt on Monday, telling friends she was making her T-shirt pillow case for her father because UNC is his favorite college basketball team.

Christina Calloway: Portales News-Tribune

Kids College students lay out home-brought T-shirts to make pillow cases with, an art project students said they were excited about.

Carlee Simoes said she was going to make her pillow case from her family reunion T-shirt, which had a Boston Red Sox theme.

Helton and Simoes, both 9, say they enjoy doing fun art projects, such as creating their T-shirt pillow cases while at Kids' College at Eastern New Mexico University.

Kids' College, serving area children in the 6 to 12 age group, is a two-month program (offered in weekly segments) that offers a summer learning environment by refreshing minds in areas of science, reading and art during the spring and fall gap.

Rebecca Gossett, Kids' College coordinator, said in addition to providing children with extra opportunities for learning,the program also exposes them to the college campus, which gears their minds toward post-secondary education options.

Mason McBee, counselor at Kids' College and Dora's varsity football coach, said his class enjoys doing science projects best.

McBee says Kids' College provides a balanced day mixed with academics, activity and fun projects.

"They build their reading skills, literacy and vocabulary," McBee said about his students. "They do lots of art projects to express themselves and they do a lot of active work to stay healthy."

According to McBee, Kids' College relieves the pressure of traditional school with no grades. There is also a counselor to kid ratio of 3-to-6.

He noted he's seen a lot of growth with his class over the last four weeks, especially socially.

"Kids come in shy and really open up," McBee said. "They get a lot better with presenting and reading aloud."

Many of the children pegged their daily swimming hour as their favorite time of the day. Others said they enjoy learning through projects.

"We have no homework and no tests," said Giovanni Luhman, 9, of Albuquerque. "We do work but it's fun work.

Payton Santiallanes, 10, of Portales described his Kids' College class as a family.

"(Kids' College) is awesome," Santiallanes said. "This is my third year and I pretty much know everybody."

Christina Clark, 10, of Portales said her favorite activity was making flowers out of paper. She added that if she wasn't in Kids' College, she'd be at home bored.

"I don't like being bored," Clark said. "I'm in a happy place here."

What: Kids' College at ENMU

Who: Area children, ages 6-12

When: July 2 through July 27

Cost: $75 per week, which includes lunch and snacks. (There are three weeks left).

Contact: 575-562-2165

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