PEOPLE students to perform new skills

July 8, 2008 By Nicole Fritz

For three weeks, almost 450 Wisconsin high school students have been living the college life: eating in Gordon Commons, sleeping in Witte Hall and taking everything from science to fine arts classes during the day.

The students are part of the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE), which strives to be a pipeline between Wisconsin’s underserved students and higher education. As part of program, the students will spend a portion of every high school summer at UW–Madison, learning about college life.

On Saturday, July 12, at the end of the students’ three-week experience, the PEOPLE students will perform their newly learned fine-art skills at the High School End of Summer Celebration in Memorial Union Theater, 800 Langdon St., from 1-3:30 p.m. Students will take the stage to perform a variety of acts, including poetry, capoeira, salsa, break dancing, choir, DJ spinning and more.

“[The event] is high energy, like a celebration,” says Jacqueline Dewalt, director of PEOPLE. “You laugh, you cry, you go ‘Oh no he didn’t!'”

The performance will include about 450 incoming 10th- and 11th-graders who participate in the three-week summer program. Students come from all over the state, including Madison, Milwaukee, Racing, Kenosha, Waukesha and other Indian Nation schools. The event is open and free to the public.

But according to Dewalt, the performance is about more than just a few hours of skits from high school students.

“It is more about the Wisconsin idea; it is about opening the door to UW–Madison to the diverse communities of Wisconsin. It is a visible manifestation of everything this institution should be, opening the doors and extending its resources to uplift the people of Wisconsin,” Dewalt says.