Portland Elementary School field trip to the College of Business
Portland Elementary School field trip to the College of Business

For one group of young West Louisville students, March 25 was their first day of college.

The 5th graders from Portland Elementary School visited UofL’s College of Business that day to glimpse what higher education is all about.

They took mini classes in several subjects, including art, study abroad and business. In an engineering class, Timothy Gornet of the Rapid Prototyping Center showed them how a 3D printer works. In science class, they made slime (and got to take it home in a plastic bag).

They even went to the main Belknap Campus dining hall and ate with some UofL athletes, who amiably posed for pictures as the kids dined on burgers, fries, pizza and ice cream in waffle cones. At one long table, members of the men’s soccer team gave their full attention to a pint-sized, bespectacled boy. Elsewhere, football player Trumaine Washington fetched soda for the kids while basketball player Chinanu Onuaku smiled for the cameras with star-struck, wide-eyed children.

“This place is awesome!” exclaimed one girl, who vowed to one day be a UofL student.

The field trip was organized by students in Christy Burge’s honors leadership class. The students decided their required service project should build upon the Elevate Portland Initiative, the College of Business service program that is focusing on Portland Elementary School. Since the fall, students, faculty and staff from the college have donated warm clothing, snacks and tablet PCs to the West Louisville elementary school, which is part of UofL’s Signature Partnership Initiative.

Other students who pitched in included members of the cheerleading team, who taught the students the “C-A-R-D-S” cheer, and basketball players Deng Adel and Ryan McMahon, who joined Onuaku later in the day at the Student Recreation Center to shoot some hoops with the children.

In addition to putting together the field trip, the honors students received $1,800 in donations, allowing them to purchase school supplies, shoes, shirts and slacks for the Portland students. Leftover cash was donated to the school.

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Janet Cappiello covers the College of Business, the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, the College of Education and Human Development, the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, Sustainability Council and military initiatives for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She has more than 30 years’ experience in journalism, including working for The Associated Press and magazines such as Vegetarian Times and Sustainability: The Journal of Record. She has been at UofL since March 2014.