Never Too Early for a Visit to Wabashby Steve Charles • November 5, 2011
On Saturday morning, middle-schoolers from KIPP College Prep in Indianapolis visited the Wabash library, classrooms, and the Allen Athletics Center. In the afternoon they sat in the stands to watch the Little Giants win the NCAC Championship in football.
In the middle of it all, they took a break at the Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies to play pool, eat pizza, and talk sports with the college guys.
It was just the sort of “Wabash experience” David Kogan ’95 had hoped for.
Kogan is a member of the board of the KIPP Indianapolis, a charter middle school whose mission is “to go above and beyond to prepare our students for college and life success through character-building and academic rigor.” Granted a charter by Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson in 2004, the school is part of a 99-school nationwide KIPP network, all in low-income neighborhoods.
“As a board we’ve been looking for special ways to reward students for academic and behavioral achievement,” said Kogan, who graduated with an M.B.A. from Harvard and is director of business development at Belden, Inc. “The faculty and staff decide who gets to go. We came up with the idea of visiting Wabash as something for the boys.
“One of the school's goals is to get students ready to engage college prep schools, then to go on to college,” Kogan explained. The visit to Wabash would be a perfect introduction.
So Kogan and KIPP teamed up with MXIBS Director Michael Brown, the students at MXIBS, and Athletic Director Joe Haklin ’73 to make the visit a reality.
It began with a tour of the Allen Athletics and Recreation Center and a meeting with Haklin, then continued with tours of the library and science labs.
“First we opened their eyes to these great facilities and opportunities, then showed them what they would need to do to enjoy them,” Kogan said with a smile. Alongside them for much of the day were current Wabash students.
KIPP Board President David Mann said that personal attention made the Wabash visit special.
"We’ve been to other schools, but haven’t had this kind of personal attention,” Mann told the Wabash students. “That has made all the difference.”
Asked if middle school wasn’t a little early for a college visit, Mann said, “Not at all.
“Many kids from affluent homes hear about college and going to college around the home, and for much of their lives. Many of these students, [many of whom will be first-generation college students] have not heard much about it at all, so this is not early for them. We want to start this now. In fact, by the time they graduate eighth grade, they will have spent time at three or four colleges.”
Saturday’s lunch stop concluded with an impromptu step-dancing demonstration by Evan Jordan, a sixth grader at Kipp. As the applause from the college students and middle-schoolers subsided, Kogan took a moment to thank the Wabash students.
“When we had this idea, I knew it would be up to Wabash students to make it work,” Kogan told his fellow Wabash men. “I knew you guys could pull this off.
“Thank you for giving these students a true Wabash experience.”