Aug. 14, 2003

College Students Reach Out To DISD Elementary Schools With Pride

DALLAS (SMU) -- SMU students will be visiting elementary schools in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) to generate enthusiasm about learning from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, as part of the university's student orientation week.

The annual service project, Ponies Reach Into Dallas Elementaries (PRIDE), is designed to introduce first-year and transfer students to the university and the Dallas community.

Students will visit eight elementary schools and two learning centers and engage children in such activities as reading, studying English as a Second Language, and reviewing multiplication tables. SMU students also may discuss the importance of school and learning and why they chose to pursue higher education.

"The point is to get elementary students excited about the school year and about learning," said Elizabeth Eichenlaub, program coordinator of community involvement at SMU.

The university will follow up the project with a volunteer training session in September for students interested in serving as DISD mentors throughout the school year.

"This project is the first opportunity students have to experience a service project at SMU," said Kasuen Wong, an SMU senior. "My former roommate participated in PRIDE and has continued to do service projects at SMU. She even went on a service-focused trip as part of the Alternative Spring Break program."

Participating elementary schools include James B. Bonham, James W. Fannin, L.L. Hotchkiss, Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Ben Milam, Dan D. Rogers, and Vickery Meadows, as well as César Chávez and John F. Kennedy Learning Centers.

Eichenlaub said, "DISD has been a good partner to SMU and a strong presence in the community. We know the students will have a good experience."