MOUNT VERNON — Amazing things happen when gifted and talented elementary school pupils team up with talented and savvy college students, as is the case with the Kenyon College Mentorship program. The proof of that was evident at a recent event where pupils and their college mentors presented the results of their semester-long collaboration and shared their experiences with family, friends and fellow program participants.
Centerburg second-grader Levi Houck combined math skills and his love of animals to create a board game with the assistance of his Kenyon mentor Amanda Somekh.
Danville second-graders Darren Mickley and Bailey Moreland, with Kenyon mentor Anna Wilhelm, compared life in ancient Egypt with life in present-day Egypt. They learned, among other things, Egyptian mythology, the role of the pharaohs and the importance of the Nile River, then and now.
Ava Cochrane, a first-grader at East Knox, produced and starred in a video called “A Day in the Life of a Nurse.” Her Kenyon mentor Emily Saxe was the accident victim Nurse Ava was treating in the video. Ava said she discovered it is important for the nurse to tell the patient what she is doing and why.
Mount St. Helen’s and other major volcanic eruptions set the stage for the presentation by Fredericktown first-graders Laney Wenger, Macie Mondillo and Emma Parrish and Kenyon mentor Sophie Schechter. They discussed the devastation that can be caused by volcanoes then activated the model volcano they had made.
Croatia was the focus of the research done by Centerburg second-grader Mariah Kurtovic and her mentor Jaime Cohen. Along with information about the Croatian alphabet, traditional foods and tourism, Mariah’s display included actual artifacts from the country.
Faith Langdon and Hunter Durbin, Danville third-graders, teamed with Kenyon mentor Jordan Brooks to find fantastic facts about volcanoes. They also built a model volcano, which eventually erupted after a little “tweaking” of ingredients.
Faith told the News she liked working on the project because, “we got to talk and learn about stuff I didn’t know about volcanoes.” She also said it was really fun working with a college kid. She liked meeting someone from somewhere else.
East Knox first-graders Garry Cooper and Astian Moore and mentor Erika Thorn imagined their own solar system and constructed a model. They described each planet’s physical characteristics, wildlife and governmental structure.
Molly Smith, Fredericktown, grade four, and Kenyon mentor Carolyn Campbell looked into the types of birds in Knox County and discussed what they found out about cardinals, woodpeckers and red-winged blackbirds, among others.
Centerburg second-graders Davis Garrett and Michael Funk, with Kenyon mentor Anna Wilhelm, delved into the construction of famous structures around the world. Michael was unable to attend the presentation, but Davis ably expounded upon the six they found most interesting — the pyramids, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Taj Mahal, the Washington Monument, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.
In the absence of her mentee East Knox first-grader Mitchell Williams, Kenyon’s Devon Basco discussed their findings about ancient armor, weapons and warriors. Basco said Mitchell’s favorite is Spartacus.
Organic food, where to find it and why to eat it, was the topic chosen by Danville fourth-grader Vivian Hawk. She and mentor Kiera Bushing also did taste tests, with yogurt being Vivian’s favorite organic food.
This was Bushing’s first year as a mentor and the junior classics major enjoyed the experience. “I think it’s a great program that helps kids like Vivian explore things they are interested in,” she told the News. “Giving them an older buddy that can encourage them is a great thing. It’s also a great learning experience for the mentors. Kenyon is lucky to be a part of this program.
Abby Justice, East Knox, grade one, loves monarch butterflies, so she and her mentor Kate Kadleck studied the life cycle of the regal insect. As an extra touch, Abby recorded her research notes in a “book” shaped like a butterfly.
Fun facts about Hawaii were presented by Danville fourth-grader Abby Porter and mentor Elizabeth Trout. They talked about the Hawaiian alphabet, ancient Hawaiian water sports and typical modern-day Hawaiian foods. May 1, said Abby, is Lei Day in Hawaii.
East Knox first-grader Ariel Cochrane and mentor Johanna Klinman discussed how horses eat and drink, and compared the amount of food needed by huge draft animals and by small ponies.
The mentorship program is a cooperative effort between the Knox County Educational Service Center and the Off-Campus Activities Program in Psychology at Kenyon College. John Jurkowitz is the ESC coordinator of gifted and enrichment services and Jen Brown and Anna Wilhelm were this year’s student liaisons with OAPP at Kenyon.