Columbia College welcomed around 60 fifth- through seventh-graders from Columbia Public Schools to campus for the final week of their monthlong Summer Expeditions program, culminating in a celebration ceremony in Launer Auditorium on Thursday, June 29.

A group shot at the Summer Expeditions celebration ceremony, held June 29 in Launer Auditorium on the campus of Columbia College.
(Photo by Kaci Smart)

This is the eighth straight year Columbia College has hosted a week of Summer Expeditions, which Columbia Public Schools presents through its MAC Scholars program. This year, the fifth-graders took classes on art, music, drama, history and physical education; the sixth-graders focused on forensic science, nursing, math and technology; and the seventh graders partnered with Kyle Holland and Clint Brinkley from the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture for lessons on environmental science, as well as taking a chemistry class on the Columbia College campus each day.

Members of the Columbia College staff tutored the campers, with Bo Bedilion teaching art, Dr. Amy Darnell teaching drama, Nollie Moore teaching music, Dr. Ann Schlemper teaching math, Theresa Veit teaching nursing, Dr. Melinda McPherson teaching forensic science, Dr. Alan James teaching chemistry and Matt Meininger teaching technology.

The fifth-graders treated the parents, teachers and other community members present at Thursday’s celebration ceremony to a song that they had worked on all week with Moore. At a reception after the ceremony, guests snacked on blackberry cobbler made with fruit the seventh graders helped harvest with the CCUA.

“Students, I hope this month of learning, growing, making friends and having fun, capped off by this week of exploring what all a college campus has to offer, motivates you to keep striving to be your best,” Summer Expeditions coordinator Molly Taylor said at the celebration ceremony.

Dr. Jill Dunlap Brown, Columbia Public Schools’ assistant superintendent for elementary education, provided the welcome for the audience at the closing ceremony, and Columbia College professor of political science Dr. Terry Smith helped present the seventh-graders who were “graduating” the program with certificates of completion.

Smith also reminded campers of the $2,500 annual scholarship available to Summer Expeditions alumni who enroll at Columbia College.

“Whatever path you choose to take, we want you to be successful and chase your dreams of going to college,” Smith said. “We also hope that the path brings you back to Columbia College. We’d be honored to count you among our alumni.”

For the fourth straight year, the State Farm Insurance Foundation supported the campers’ week at Columbia College through charitable grant funds. State Farm sales leader Ryan Kenney, Columbia agents Justin Hahn, D.J. Hinds, Greg Hill, Phyllis Nichols and Stephanie Wilmsmeyer and public affairs specialist Kevin Gamble were all on hand to help celebrate the students’ achievements.

Check out the photo gallery below for pictures from the celebration ceremony and the reception that followed!