It was a hot, sunny July day last year when Rory McMahan dressed head-to-toe in an authentic Civil War soldier’s uniform. The air-conditioning in Raintree Hall provided some relief, but the evidence of the uniform’s stifling nature appeared as a rosy glow on his cheeks.
He is one of dozens of teachers again participating in Indiana University Northwest’s Kids College program. Kids College has been around for more than 20 years and hosts more than 600 students during its two three-week sessions in June and July. The first session begins June 20 and runs through July 7.
Classes meet Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.-10:45 a.m. Session II begins July 7 and runs through July 28. Class offerings are divided by age groups: New Kids on Campus (ages 7-9), Young Juniors (ages 9-12) and Young Collegians (13-16). The cost is $60 per class.
McMahan has the particularly difficult task of making the past interesting to children. His interactive history classes are, Let’s Be Civil! and Isolate or Intervene? World War II. "I have to do something to take history off the page and make it real. Otherwise it’s so darn boring," he said.
Other than wearing different costumes, which he acquires from the Internet or at costume sales from high school theatre departments, McMahan takes the children outside to march as soldiers. Isolate or Intervene? World War II is designed make the students members of President Roosevelt’s cabinet at the beginning of World War II. The class will decide whether to stand by and do nothing or enter the war to help America’s European colleagues save democracy.
The mix of learning and fun is what makes Kids College so unique. The program has standard courses in writing, reading, phonics, mathematics and even sports. There are also ISTEP review and study skills courses. However, each year students also get a chance to explore courses in popular culture subjects such as crime science investigations and hip-hop dance.
Kids College Coordinator Joan Wolter looks to her 12-year-old-granddaughter, who is in her fifth year with the program, for ideas on new classes to offer.
The most popular of these newer series of classes are the dance courses in hip-hop. At the end of the each session, the children who participate in these dance classes put on a performance for their families and other students.
Its mixture of course offerings is as diverse as the student population. It is a chance for children of various ethnic and economic backgrounds to share a common experience.
"I believe that this experience has been good for her (Wolter’s granddaughter) and the other children because it takes them out of their school neighborhoods and introduces them to children from various backgrounds. They get a chance to go to different buildings, have a variety of instructors and be on a college campus, which makes them feel like their big brothers or sisters. And most of all, it is all done in a safe learning environment," Wolter said.
Entry into a class is on a first-come first-serve basis. Parents may register by telephone at(219) 980-6805 or (219) 980-6828, or visit Indiana University Northwest, Sycamore Hall, room 300. Hours are Monday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.