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Getting an ‘AUsome’ experience

What do karate, Aubie and a school bus have in common?

Not a lot, unless you’re a Red Level Elementary School student in the after-school program who’s just so happens to be going to Auburn’s homecoming game on Nov. 6.

That was the message the group got Monday when they were informed the university’s athletics department was donating 100 tickets to the school.

Why, one might ask?

Well, it was all because Principal Rodney Drish asked.

“I had to pull some strings to do this,” Drish said laughingly. “Actually, it was all thanks to Dr. Jennifer Adams (an associate professor with AU’s journalism department). She came to help us out with our student newspaper, and I mentioned to her how great it would be if our students could come to a game.”

In actuality, Drish discussed at length with Adams about the need to expose Red Level students to a college/university atmosphere. He explained how the school funds its after-school program with a 21st Century Learning grant, which is designed to expose children to academic enrichment. Students who participate are exposed to the arts, other sports – like karate – and given extra assistance with homework.

“Red Level is a rural area,” Drish said. “Traditionally, a good number of our students don’t go on to college. In fact, a lot of our students have never been on the LBW Community College campus.

“So, I wanted to expose them to that university atmosphere,” he said. “I wanted to promote education, and I thought what better way to do than to visit a university. And if they happen to be playing football, well, that would be great, too.”

Adams took Drish’s request back to the university athletics department and sent out pleas to fellow instructors. In the end, the athletics department committed to donating 100 tickets.

The students will be treated to an authentic “tailgating experience,” a guided campus tour and of course, a football game.

“For some of our Red Level kids – or any kid for that matter – the closest they ever get to a college football game is by sitting in front of the television,” Drish said. “Not these kids.”

Currently, there are approximately 130 students in grades pre-kindergarten through eighth that participate in the after-school program.

The first 100 students who turn in a permission slip get to go to Auburn, Drish said. Those who go will be required to turn in an essay on the trip discussing what they learned.

That information will be presented at the school’s next Family Literacy night.

Students who do not get to go on the trip shouldn’t despair, Drish said.

“But the ones who don’t get to go, that’s all right,” he said. “The following weekend, we’re headed to see a Troy game.

“So, that has us going to an Auburn game and Troy game,” he said. “I hope now that the University of Alabama is feeling the pressure.”

Some 100 Red Level Elementary Schools students will have the opportunity to attend Auburn University’s homecoming game. Shown are: Rilee Peacock, Bradyen Hall, Emily Baker, Julie Hendrix, Trenton Kelley, Brittney Driver, Lillian Mack, Kalif Bradley and Jonathan Short. | Kendra Bolling/Star-News