Purdue Calumet basketball players partner with Hammond elementary schools

Purdue University Calumet student athletes are visiting Hammond elementary school classrooms to help engage the grade school students in reading and writing activities.The Purdue Cal Peregrines R-Dub Club-“R” for reading and “Dub,” short for the letter, “W,” representing writing-debuted late last month when seven members of the university’s men’s and women’s intercollegiate basketball teams visited fifth grade classrooms at Columbia and Morton Elementary Schools and a fourth grade class at Harding School.

“We are excited about partnering with these Hammond schools in this project,” Purdue Calumet Director of Fitness, Wellness and Sports Rob Jensen said. “We have embraced the R-Dub Club as precisely the type of ‘Champions of Character’ community outreach initiative our administrative organization, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, desires that we become involved.”

Plans call for Purdue Calumet basketball players to make monthly, 45-minute R-Dub Club visits to Columbia, Morton and Harding School classes this spring. Each visit is comprised of three components:

  • One Purdue Calumet student-athlete reading from a chapter book as the elementary students follow along;
  • Another Purdue Calumet student-athlete leading a discussion among the younger students of what was read; and
  • The grade school students interviewing a third Purdue Calumet student-athlete for a writing activity assigned by their teacher.

Purdue Calumet women\'s basketball player Jennifer Hostetter of Munster reads to Hammond Morton Elementary School fifth graders during the recent tip-off visit of the Purdue Cal Peregrines R-Dub Club.Purdue Calumet players participating during the first R-Dub Club visits Jan. 26-27 were: sophomore Jennifer Hostetter of Munster; freshman Mark McCord of Houston, Tex.; sophomore Stephanie Peacock of Rockford, Ill.; sophomore Krystal Rigoni of Portage; sophomore Marian Smith of Hammond; sophomore Marcus Summers of Hammond; sophomore Kevin Thomas of Highland; and senior Sarah Vaughn of Rushville, Ill. The next visits are scheduled Feb. 23-24. Additional visits are set for March and April.

Purdue Calumet, which serves as a Newspaper in Education program sponsor for the participating Columbia, Morton and Harding classes, sees the R-Dub Club as a way to expand its role and involvement in advancing literacy among Hammond elementary school students.

“While we are pleased to support the provision of newspapers as learning tools in these classrooms through the Newspaper in Education program, we also want to be more proactive in contributing to educational enrichment among young students,” Purdue Calumet Assistant Vice Chancellor for Advancement/University Relations Wes Lukoshus said.

Before introducing the R-Dub Club, university officials met with the classroom teachers, who, with the support of their building principal, embraced the concept.

Purdue Calumet men\'s basketball player Mark McCord of Houston, Tex. was interviewed by fourth graders of Harding Elementary School in Hammond for a writing exercise during a recent Purdue Cal Peregrines R-Dub Club visit.“The program is a great way for my kids to make a connection with the community,” Columbia fifth grade teacher Denise Druzbicki said. “The (Purdue Calumet) athletes are positive role models for the students. They show the children that education comes first, and my students look forward to reading with them.”

During each visit, a new book will be introduced to each class. Purdue Calumet’s Office of Fitness, Wellness and Sports has obtained copies of three books, the titles of which were suggested by the classroom teachers. Each class spends time between visits completing its designated book. Plans call for Purdue Calumet to collect the books and rotate their distribution among the participating classes with each visit.

At the first R-Dub Club visits, the Purdue Calumet student athletes presented Peregrines decals and tickets to upcoming Purdue Calumet basketball games to the grade school students.