April 04, 2013 12:00AM
Third graders from Columbia Elementary School in Joplin visited Pittsburg State University Thursday and for many, the high point of their day seemed to be meeting Gus, PSU’s iconic mascot.
The students began their visit with a question-and-answer session with Gus, which was a bit challenging as Gus does not speak. Through gestures, antics and with occasional help from PSU staff, Gus answered the eager students’ questions and soon had them laughing and giggling.
After meeting Gus, the third graders toured the campus, saw a dorm room, had lunch in the student dining hall and played games in historic Brandenburg Stadium where the massive Jungletron blared over them.
The visit was part of the school’s Operation College Bound.
Libbie Burd, a teacher at Columbia Elementary and one of the creators of Operation College Bound, said students from the school visited colleges and universities in the Four-State region throughout the week.
She said the project was designed to get young students thinking about higher education as one of the pieces that make up life’s puzzle.
“We want them to know they have choices,” she said.
“It is never too early to get youngsters thinking about going to college,” said Melinda Roelfs, director of admission. “Children should have hopes, dreams and expectations that include education beyond high school.”