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Eighth graders spend a day in college

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FORT YATES, N.D. – As college students move closer to graduation ceremonies in May, a little more than 80 eighth graders from across the Standing Rock Reservation attended College Awareness Day at Sitting Bull College.

The March 3 program was held at the new $40 million campus and is just one event in a continuing series of events targeting high school and junior high students.

College Awareness is a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education in association with the South Dakota Office of Indian Education and Sitting Bull College.

Verl Walking Elk is the outreach coordinator at Sitting Bull College.

“The most obvious goal of our college access program is to showcase Sitting Bull College, while getting the younger prospective students to start thinking about a college career. Even if they don’t choose Sitting Bull College, at least they have been exposed to a college campus, faculty and information about degree options.”

Several activities were hosted during the youth oriented event during 15 minute breakout sessions, including math games, science experiments, money trivia game, horsemanship presentations, career planning and financial aid information.

Also, as part of the program eighth graders were provided with personal tours of the new campus facilities, given a brown bag lunch and entered into drawings for a variety of door prizes, including a grand prize drawing for a Dell Netbook.

Larry Malcolm from the McLaughlin Public School won the grand prize.

According to Vice President of Student Services Julie Desjarlais 64 breakout sessions covering 16 topics were facilitated simultaneously by Sitting Bull College faculty and staff during the two-and-a-half hour program, with student groups rotating to a new session every 15 minutes.

“Early in my employment at Sitting Bull College, I encouraged our faculty and staff to look more closely at ways to bring prospective students to our campus, in addition to recruiting and outreach activities in the communities,” Desjarlais said. “Our College Awareness Program and associated activities, including our latest effort with the eighth graders does just that.”

The next College Awareness Program at Sitting Bull College is scheduled for early fall 2010 and will be specifically targeting high school seniors.

For additional information about the College Awareness Program or Sitting Bull College, contact Verl Walking Elk at the Student Services Department at (701)854-8034 or e-mail