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1,000 area fifth-graders to visit campus May 4-5

Editor's Note: Contact Lissa Martinez for times and locations of specific activities that may provide photo and/or video opportunities. You can reach her at 715-836-3651 or martinlj@uwec.edu.

RELEASED: May 4, 2010

EAU CLAIRE — More than 1,000 area fifth-graders will be on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus May 4-5 as part of the Blugold Beginnings' first Fifth-Grade Tour Day.

Students from Eau Claire schools will visit campus TODAY, and students from Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Arcadia will be on campus Wednesday as part of the two-day event. Activities will run at various campus locations from10 a.m.-2 p.m. May 4 and 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. May 5.

"The Fifth-Grade Tour Day will allow students to visit campus, learn about college and help them to feel comfortable in a university setting," said Lissa Martinez, Blugold Beginnings program coordinator. "The tour days will allow young students to explore a variety of places on campus, including residence halls and classrooms. They also will experience special class demonstrations created just for them."

About 340 UW-Eau Claire student mentors will lead groups of five to seven fifth-graders during the two-day event. The mentors visited the students at their schools last week. The same mentors will spend the day with their groups during this week's visit days. The mentors will then follow up with the students in their elementary schools the week of May 10.

"The mentors were in the schools to build connections with their students," Martinez said. "The same mentors will meet their students at the bus today and tomorrow when they arrive on campus and stay with them until they get back on the bus in the afternoon. Next week, they'll go back to the schools to answer questions and spend time with the students. We want the fifth-graders — many of whom may not know anyone who has gone to college — to feel like they have a connection with a college student."

Fourteen faculty members and 20 staff and community members also have volunteered to help with the fifth-grade visits.

"The faculty, staff and community volunteers will be the friendly faces, eyes and ears of the university," Martinez said. "We'll have the volunteers throughout campus to provide support during the visits."

Blugold Beginnings is a pre-college access program that pairs UW-Eau Claire student mentors with youth in Eau Claire and surrounding schools. The program aims to inform and inspire underrepresented students about higher education and how it is attainable for them, Martinez said.

The Fifth-Grade Tour Days were made possible by allocated funds from the Wisconsin College Access Challenge Grant, which is administered by the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation on behalf of the state of Wisconsin. UW-Eau Claire was selected from among nine Wisconsin colleges and universities that competed for the funding to replicate UW-Green Bay's successful Phuture Phoenix program to encourage young at-risk students to pursue higher education.

For more information about the Fifth-Grade Tour Days, contact Lissa Martinez at 715-836-3651 or martinlj@uwec.edu.

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JB

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