These third-graders recently returned from a trip to Auburn University – the result of a contest meant to get students thinking about where they might want to attend college one day.
“College is such an abstract concept for young students,” said Quinlan Matthew, the second-grade teacher at Schmid. “Our college week contest is a way of making it hands on for them and helping them understand all the options that are out there.”
As part of the annual contest, Schmid students from grades PreK-8 choose a college or university to research and create a presentation for a panel of judges. Matthew, who has been teaching at Schmid for five years, had previously used her own alma mater, St. Mary’s of Notre Dame, as the choice for her second-grade class. But last year, her husband said it was his school’s turn.
“I’m so glad I listened and picked Auburn,” said Matthew, whose video presentation showcased her then second-grade class singing the Auburn fight song and reciting the Auburn creed. After her students won the contest, Matthew sent the video to her husband’s grandmother, whose late husband attended Auburn, then watched in amazement as it went viral.
“It ended up on all of the Auburn Facebook pages, and pretty soon it had 75,000 views,” she said.
Not long after, Matthew was contacted by representatives from Auburn who wanted to pay a visit to Schmid. The students gathered at their school in early July, and after being thanked for their outstanding project, were invited to visit Auburn during the first month of the new school year. See the surprise here.
“”This was no ordinary college tour,” said Matthew, who accompanied her students to Alabama. “Everywhere we went, people were lined up cheering and waving signs. They treated us like we were celebrities.”
Decked out in donated Auburn gear, the Schmid students were treated to unique experiences around campus. They had a lesson in the Education building, fed tilapia at the fishery, and were cheered by thousands during Auburn’s weekend football game.
“We happened to be there on the day they unveiled the jumbo tron,” said Matthew, “so our kids were one of the first things featured on it.”
Auburn fully embraced the Schmid students, and has talked of growing the new partnership through mentoring opportunities and a possible scholarship program.
“It was truly an amazing experience,” she said. “I love that when they hear the word college now, they’ll think of Auburn.”