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Fifth-graders learn about life at Brenau
Students take tour through Northeast Georgia History Center, residence halls
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Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School fifth-graders Jada Harrison, right, and Grace Keith perform a science experiment in a Brenau University lab Friday morning during their visit to the campus as part of the Brenau Leader Scholarship Program. The students took part in various events on campus to learn more about college life.

While many college students likely shy away from an early morning chemistry class, a group of fifth-graders excitedly took their places behind lab tables Friday.

For their class project, the students had to determine what happens when you mix glue, water, food coloring and Borax.

"It was really hard," said Hannah Blessings, a Riverbend Elementary School student. "But it was really cool."

The "cool" thing Hannah referenced is the Silly Putty-like material that the young chemists created.

They weren't taking just any chemistry class; it was a course being taught at Brenau University.

The students were on the university's campus at the invitation of the Brenau Servant Leadership Scholarship Program.

Each year, the group completes an end-of-the-year project. Usually, they do things like clothes drives or Humane Society benefit. But this year, they decided to think outside of the box.

"We realized there's a great need to get kids interested in college early on," said Kimberly Bradberry, a senior at Brenau and the president of the servant leadership organization.

"This way, they'll actually plan for college instead of scrambling their last year in high school to figure out how everything works and what they need to do."

The group of 10 students - five from Riverbend and five from Fair Street Elementary School - were hand-picked by their teachers.

"We asked the teachers to nominate students who they felt would be good candidates," Bradberry said. "The ones who had good behavior and academic achievement in the classroom."

The elementary students spent the better part of Friday sampling the many facets of college life at Brenau.

In addition to the chemistry class, the girls had the opportunity to tour the Northeast Georgia History Center, several residence halls and an exhibit at the college's library.

"We learned a lot of history about the tornadoes that hit Gainesville," said Jada Harrison, a Fair Street student

"And we also saw a lot of Dian Fossey's gorilla stuff (at the library)."

While on campus, the elementary students had the opportunity to interact with actual college students by eating in the dining hall and even working out with some of the Brenau student athletes. They also got a chance to sample some of the Brenau traditions, like searching for the school's resident ghost, Agnes.

"They have a lot of traditions," said Grace Keith, a Fair Street student.

"We tried to incorporate some of the traditions and other things that really makes Brenau Brenau," Bradberry said.

While some of the girls were just discovering there was a university right in their backyards, others were surprised to discover some of the school's features.

"I didn't know they had a radio station here," Mattie Von Essen, a Riverbend student.

"That was a neat tour."

Although everyone in the tour group may not become alumnae of Brenau, the tour organizers achieved their main goal of planting a seed in the minds of the elementary students.

When asked if they enjoyed the tour, all of the girls enthusiastically said "yes."

And when asked if they're planning to attend college now, that affirmative answer was nearly deafening.

"We really wanted to get them thinking about college early on," Bradberry said.

"No matter what they decide to do in the future, we wanted them to realize that they can make whatever their dream is, come true."

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