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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tours cater to younger crowd

    Starting Friday, students will notice a much younger tour group visiting campus.

    The UA will now host groups of middle school students from southern Arizona as they are given a tour of the campus.

    “”(Middle school students) are a group of students that should be thinking about college,”” said Heather Lukach, director of the UA Visitor Center. “”A lot of them haven’t been on campus or, any sort of college campus, and this is an opportunity to get them to start thinking about their futures.””

    The Visitor Center will provide hourlong tours for middle-school students every Friday of both fall and spring semesters. The tours are free and will serve up to 50 students at a time.

    Tour guides for the new program – a team of four guides and one coordinator who is also a guide – had a training session Thursday to learn how to present the university to middle school students.

    Tours will bring the students through the main part of campus, stopping at places like Old Main, the Student Union Memorial Center and the Main Library.

    At each stop, the students will hear a brief history, some of the activities in the buildings and other student life information.

    Lukach also said the tour guides would give personal stories about each of the buildings.

    “”We’re starting small,”” Lukach said. “”At this point it’s once a week, but we’re hoping that this will grow.””

    The Visitor Center announced the tours March 5 and within 72 hours, the remaining tour days were filled, said Wendi Rountree, program coordinator for the Visitor Center. There will be seven tours given this semester.

    “”There is a massive interest, in the Tucson community and others,”” Lukach said. “”We’re attracting middle school-age groups from all over southern Arizona.””

    Lukach said the groups aren’t required to be affiliated with a school or the Tucson area.

    “”If they are sixth, seventh and eighth grade students, we’ll take them,”” Lukach said.

    Rountree already gave a preliminary tour to a group from the Casa Grande area. Other groups that have booked tours are GEAR UP, a college preparedness program that works with students from the Amphitheater School District, and AVID, a nonprofit organization that prepares fourth through 12th graders for college eligibility.

    A middle school class from a school in the Anthem region of Phoenix scheduled one as well.

    Tours for middle school students used to be given by an undergraduate club known as Jr. Wildcat Recruiters.

    Lukach said the undergraduate admissions office was busy handling all of the high school tours, so the decision was made to lead the program from the Visitor Center.

    “”Those of us in the Office of Community Relations thought this is one of those important things that couldn’t fall through the cracks,”” Lukach said. “”So we wanted to bring it back.””

    The Visitor Center is currently working with the Undergraduate Admissions Arizona Ambassador program to accommodate overflow tours for middle school groups, but eventually the program will run solely out of the Visitor Center.

    The center is also working with the Early Academic Outreach office to develop a packet for K-5 groups. The groups could use the packet, planned to be finished during the summer, to conduct self-guided tours of campus.

    “”I think that if (younger students) know they can get through high school, they can obtain that goal of continuing their education, and go to college.”” Lukach said. “”It’s important to teach kids at a young age to start thinking about that.””

    After the tour, Lukach said the guides will encourage the students to visit some of the other attractions on campus, like the Arizona State Museum. Each visitor will leave with a goody bag containing information about other UA programs designed for students their age.

    Other programs directed toward middle school students include InnoWorks, a summer workshop program for underprivileged middle school students and Arizona Youth University, which offers summer day camps to students in grades three through 12.

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