Skip To Main Content
C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School students attend college for a day

The weekend before Thanksgiving break, the students on the College of Southern Maryland’s (CSM) La Plata campus looked a bit younger than usual. “I want to go to college in California,” Kayshawn Woodman, fifth grader at C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School said. “I want to be a race-car driver, a gamer and to own my own company.” After sitting in professor Chris Ripley’s class at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM)— how to start your own business — Woodman said he aspires to go into business with his parents’ companies.

Woodman, among other students from Barnhart, was excited to attend college for a day at CSM’s Destination College experience. “The students are excited to be on the campus and to see student life,” Virginia Basquez, fifth grade teacher at Barnhart said.

Destination College is a Title I districtwide initiative, with all 10 Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Title I schools sending fifth graders to CSM for this experience.

Each year, fifth-grade students at CCPS Title I schools can attend Destination College at CSM to try their hand in the college classroom for a day. The initiative fulfills a Title I requirement outlined in the Title I application. The initiative ensures that elementary-aged students will have access to the proper resources that will prepare them for careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field. “The opportunity allows elementary-aged students to branch out and explore careers as well as give them a long-range goal to see themselves in a career in the future,” Arin Bonner, CCPS director of Title I, said. “CCPS has partnered with CSM for this opportunity for over 11 years and will continue to provide the same access to succeeding fifth graders at all CCPS Title I schools.”

Upon arriving on the campus, students are welcomed by CSM staff and students and are briefed on what to expect that day. Barnhart students would spend the entire school day on the college campus attending sessions like T.J. Reim’s Lumpy Liquid presentation in science, Ripley’s business class and professor Joe Burgin’s coding class. Students would also eat lunch with their peers on campus, communing out in the school’s courtyard, just like a higher-education student.

Barnhart fifth graders look forward to spending the day at the school to see a glimpse of the possibilities of their future. “Some of the students do not really experience going to college or have other people in their family who go to college,” Kim Miller, fifth grade teacher at Barnhart, said. “It opens their eyes to the opportunities that await them—even though they are only in fifth grade—they have it in the back of their minds that this is achievable.”

“A lot of these fifth graders have a dream to go to college. I think it is inspiring and motivating for them to see and get a taste of what they can look forward to,” Basquez said. “A lot of them are taking notes on how exciting it is.”

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,000 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).