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Marcy Lantz's sixth grade class from Edison School recently visited Western as part of an Adopt-A-Classroom program. With the class are John Biernbaum of University Housing and Dining, Jude Kiah of the Bookstore and Go West and President Jack Thomas.
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Jude Kiah sets up the Skype connection between Edison School and King Elementary in Vancouver, WA as part of the Adopt-A-Classroom program.
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WIU Alumna Liz Watkins' Riverton Elementary kindergarten class show their Leatherneck pride.
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Adopt-A-Classroom Initiative Brings WIU to Grade Schools

May 14, 2013

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MACOMB, IL -- What do sixth grade students at Edison School in Macomb have in common with sixth graders at King Elementary in Vancouver, WA, and kindergartners at Riverton (IL) Elementary? Western Illinois University is "their" school.

As part of an "adopt-a-classroom" initiative, the University Bookstore, in conjunction with University Housing and Dining Services, have adopted the Edison class, taught by Marcy Lantz, and the King Elementary class, taught by Pam Dickey (who has another Western connection - Courier Adviser and Journalism Professor Rich Moreno is Dickey's brother), while the WIU Foundation has adopted the Riverton class, taught by WIU teacher education alumna Liz Watkins.

The Macomb students recently hopped on a Go West bus and visited campus, where they were treated to lunch at the new Corbin-Olson dining center, a Skype session with their Washington "sister" school and a tour of campus. In January, the class was outfitted in Think Purple t-shirts, and in March, they had the opportunity to wear those shirts and watch the Leathernecks men's basketball team win the league championship in Western Hall. The Washington students have received Think Purple/WIU gear and classroom decor as well, and keep in touch with their school via email and Skype. One step into Watkins' kindergarten class shows the classroom's Leatherneck spirit.

"The point of the 'adopt-a-classroom' program is really two-fold: it creates a buzz in their school for the program and for Western, and it creates a feeling within our local schools in particular that Western Illinois University is their university," said University Bookstore (and Go West) Director Jude Kiah. "We hope that by planting these positive seeds within our local schools, we will reap the rewards as they continue their education."

Julie Murphy, director of Foundation communications and donor stewardship, echoed Kiah's sentiments: programs such as this foster not only recognition for Western Illinois University, but for higher education in general.

"These 'adopt-a-classroom' programs show these students that there is a college or university there for them when it's time to select a school," Murphy added. "They've made that connection early, and when they begin looking at schools, they will remember their Western connection. And the fact that our Riverton classroom is led by a WIU alumna further reinforces our University's commitment to its students and alumni."

As a WIU alumna, Watkins had approached her alma mater about providing some Western memorabilia for her classroom as part of her school's program.

"Partnering with Western has given kindergarten students the awareness of college," she said. "They are excited to wear their Western shirts every Friday and we even say a Western chant. Seeing them excited about going to college brings joy to me."

Lantz said when Kiah approached her about this program, she felt it was a great opportunity for her students to learn more about college, as well as the school right in their own backyard.

"At my former school, I taught a unit on the college experience and exposed the students to the things they needed to do in order to go to college or for more schooling beyond high school. So this program with WIU was right up my alley," she added. "This adoption allowed us to give the kids a 'glimpse of college life and what they are able to attain through hard work. This partnership with Western really got the kids excited about WIU and what the future may hold for them."

Posted By: WIU News (
Office of University Relations