The Catholic University of America

April 21, 2009

Faculty, Students Sing Praises of CUA to Second-Graders

Music education major Katie Dyer leads a group of second-graders in the singing game "This is How Juanito Dances."

The number of students at The Catholic University of America grew by 65 Tuesday morning, as four classes of second-graders from Harmony Hills Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., visited campus to learn about college.

Fittingly, the first stop for Harmony Hills was Ward Hall and the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, where Sharyn Battersby, assistant professor of music education, asked the seven- and eight-year-olds what music education majors do. "They study the notes," one said.

"They practice like four or five hours a day," Battersby explained, asking, "What do you think they do after they get really, really good?" Replied one second-grader, "When they grow up they teach people how to play an instrument."

Harmony Hills Principal Robin Weaver expressed enthusiasm about her students' access to CUA. Older Harmony Hills students have visited other Washington-area colleges and universities. "Second-graders asked, 'What about us?'" she said.

Craig Parker, associate vice president and general counsel who is responsible for community relations, knows one of the teachers at Harmony Hills. "When she asked whether CUA would consider hosting a 'college visit' for this group, I thought we could provide a great experience for the kids and good exposure for the university to a large school system, a nearby community and some future students."

Kyung Kim, a Harmony Hills teacher who accompanied the group to CUA, noted that children might not understand the word "university." The visit allowed them to visualize the opportunity for education, she said. "Our focus was to show them their future."

After Battersby's brief description of college life, four music education majors took charge of small groups of second-graders. "We're going to teach them that we've come to school … to become a music teacher. This is what we do," said Katie Dyer, a senior from Kensington, Md.

Juniors Jennifer Contreras and Kyle English show students how the song and line dance "Zudio" is done.

More than 500 students in grades pre-kindergarten through five attend Harmony Hills. Knowing that Spanish is one of the 18 languages spoken by the school's students, Dyer taught her small group "Juanito Cuando Baila" ("This is How Juanito Dances"). Within minutes, Dyer used the singing game to get the students wiggling their pinkies, shaking their feet and moving their hips.

In other corners of John Paul Rehearsal Hall, senior Julianne Keller of Bethesda, Md., encouraged her group with shouts of "Awesome" and "Good job" while they sang "A Ram Sam Sam," and juniors Jennifer Contreras of Arlington, Va., and Kyle English of Cranford, N.J., paired up youngsters in a line to sing "Here we go Zudio, Zudio, Zudio" and dance.

After music, it was on to Hannan Hall, home of the physics department, where the second-graders donned protective goggles to see lab experiments.

Wearing red, a CUA school color and one of their school colors, the elementary students almost seemed to blend into the campus as they went from music to physics to the Edward M. Crough Center for Architectural Studies, home of the School of Architecture and Planning. "Incoming freshmen," observed one CUA student who paused for the second-graders to pass, "they keep getting smaller and smaller."

Parker accompanied the youngsters as they made their way through campus. "If we could bottle the energy those 65 second-graders have, we wouldn't need an electric power account with Pepco."

Not unlike the college-aged students on campus, one second-grader offered, "I'm hungry." The group made its way to the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center for lunch and souvenirs of their trip to college.