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Class at the Court: Introducing Youth to College

UNH vs. Saint Anselm tipping off on January 8th.

The University of New Haven women's basketball program hosted the annual "Class at the Court" event on Wednesday, Jan. 8 on campus in West Haven. The event engaged fourth-grade students from West Haven in experiential learning and community engagement sessions with New Haven faculty and introduced them to the college environment.

More than 550 students arrived at 10 a.m. and broke into small groups, with student-athletes from the women's basketball team as well as other Charger athletic teams serving as campus guides. The hands-on experiences included sessions with UNH professors and students on the subjects of language arts, science and math.

"The relationship between UNH, the the City of West Haven and the public schools in general is a great relationship. This experience gives our children real world, practical uses for what they're learning," said West Haven mayor Ed O'Brien.

In the language arts session, the students learned important tips for writing a news article and were treated to a tour and demonstration in the campus television studio. In their second breakout experiential learning session, students toured Gehring Hall and the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science while focusing on science with a demonstration of force and rebounding. As part of the math session at the David A. Beckerman Recreation Center, the women's basketball team shot free throws as students recorded the success rate and represented their shooting percentages as fractions. Then, lunch was provided by Sodexo and served on campus at Bartels Hall.

"Hopefully we can expose the students to what we have at the university and begin to challenge them to look at the excitement of learning and to see what college is all about," commented Deborah Chin, UNH Associate Vice President, Director of Athletics and Recreation. "We hope they will continue to do well in school and ultimately come and join us at the University of New Haven."

The fourth graders concluded their day of college experiences with the women's basketball game against Saint Anselm at Charger Gymnasium. The students were greeted just inside the doors by Charlie the Charger and the entire UNH Department of Athletics staff who presented them with t-shirts and a gift bag. The gift bags were co-sponsored by the Connecticut National Guard and Gatorade. While in the stands, the students could be heard throughout the contest cheering for the Chargers and chanting "defense" during crucial moments.

In addition to Mayor O'Brien, the event attracted dignitaries from all over the community, including West Haven Superintendent of Schools Neil Cavallaro, West Haven Coordinator of Health, Physical Education and Athletics Jon Capone and many of the principals from the West Haven Public Schools.

"Class at the Court" activities will finish when the women's basketball team once again visits each of the fourth grade classrooms to follow-up on the lessons from each experiential learning session. During their visits, the team will collect press releases written by the students about the game they watched. The team will pick the press releases that best describes the event and the New Haven Registerwill print the winning articles as part of their sponsorship with the event.

550 students participated in the years Class at the Court. The participating schools from the West Haven School District were Forest School, Seth G. Haley Elementary School, Mackrille School, Pagels School, Savin Rock Community School and Washington School. The sponsors the the event included Sodexo, the New Haven Register, Gatorade and the Connecticut National Guard.

"Class at the Court" is part of the UNH Department of Athletics' broader community engagement efforts, which seeks to help the surrounding towns and community organizations while providing opportunities for student-athletes and coaches to give back to their communities. Have an idea? Contact New Haven Senior Associate Director of Athletics of Susan Zawacki at

The "Class at the Court" event also helped introduce students to the "Charge into the Future" initiative – a partnership with West Haven Public Schools that will provide half-tuition scholarships to all West Haven High School graduates admitted to the University as full-time students.
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Class at the Court 2014 Video