ATO Chapter at NDSU Makes a Big Difference to Little Kids

Oct 17, 2011

EPSILON DELTA (North Dakota State) — Members of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity at NDSU adopted a fourth grade class from Myhre Elementary School in Bismarck, North Dakota as pen pals for the year.

With the help of Assistant Director of Admissions Justin Grams, Assistant Director of Service Learning and Civic Engagement Matt Skoy and Myhre Elementary School Counselor Linda Anderson, 22 9- and 10-year-olds took a field trip to Fargo to meet their pen pals at ATO Fraternity and discover the NDSU campus.

Tescha Walz, the class teacher and Linda Anderson escorted the kids on the three-hour bus ride from Bismarck to Fargo on Wednesday, Oct. 12. Upon arriving to NDSU, the kids met up with a handful of ATO members and broke up into groups to tour the college campus.

The fourth graders were given free NDSU T-shirts before having lunch at the R Dining Center, touring a Weible Hall dorm room and then meeting with professors in three different fields of study.

In one session, the young students went to the engineering department, where they built catapults. In another session, the group went to the entomology department and explored the world of bugs with NDSU research specialist Don Carey. In the third session, students met with Dana Davis from the pharmacy, nursing and allied sciences department, where they learned about health related professions through interactive presentations and even a puppet show.

Kyle Dillon (North Dakota State ’10), a sophomore majoring in construction engineering, said “The excitement on the kids faces was the best part of the day; everything was so new and big to them. I never got to do anything that cool when I was in elementary school.”

After the campus tour, Walz’s class of fourth graders toured the Alpha Tau Omega house and got to ask ATO President Ryan Anderson (North Dakota State ’10) questions about fraternity and sorority life.

The pen pal program began with the 2009 ‘Hope for the future’ initiative. Linda Anderson contacted Grams in the NDSU Office of Admissions showing interest in developing the program further in its second year.

Grams took a trip out the Bismarck to meet with Linda Anderson and Tescha Walz’s fourth grade class interested in having pen pals.
“It’s great when we can give back to the state of North Dakota,” Grams said as the kids played a big game of duck, duck, goose with their new pen pals in front of the Benson-Bunker Field House.

This is the second year ATO has adopted a class from Myhre Elementary as pen pals.

“I think just having someone younger who’s looking forward to meeting someone new and making a new friend is a cool experience,” Jason Jorgenson, North Dakota State ’08 said. Jorgenson is a senior majoring in radiological sciences, and this is his second year having a pen pal.

Jorgenson’s new pen pal, Kiara, thoroughly enjoyed the campus tour, exclaiming that the bugs were her favorite part. Kiara expressed her interest in working with bugs in the future now because of her trip to NDSU.

“These kids have a blast writing to us and they have quite the imaginations,” Jorgenson said. “Kiara’s first letter to me was just awesome.”

Linda Anderson’s goal for the campus visit was for the fourth graders to start learning about college life early on.

“Students can’t dream about the future unless they know what they’re dreaming about,” Linda Anderson said.

See full article by Cate Ekegren here.


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