“Do you have a brother or sister?”
“Do you like to play sports?”
“Is your favorite color blue?
Those questions were flying fast and furious inside a 5th grade classroom at McKinley-Brighton Elementary School in Syracuse. Students were engaged in a hotly contested game of “People Bingo.” Each student was holding a sheet of paper with a bingo grid on it. Inside each square was a characteristic or trait. The goal was to find a person in the room who matched the description in a box, then write his or her name next to it.
Onondaga Community College’s Sarah Collins was in charge of the game. Collins is the Director of Student Leadership and Development and she brought four Student Association officers with her along with Katharine Rumrill-Teece who is OCC’s Dean of Humanities & Social Sciences. People Bingo was a game with a purpose. “It’s designed to encourage open communication in preparation for next semester when we work with these students on forming a student council at McKinley-Brighton,” said Collins.
Before the game started Collins introduced herself to the class. She explained how the officers in the Student Association worked hard both individually and as a unit. “Sometimes you have your own work to do in school, sometimes you work with each other as a group. These Student Officers have a lot of projects they have to do together, but at the same time each of them has roles and responsibilities within that project. It’s important because they need to lean on each other and know that when one of them has an assignment the other one’s going to have an assignment and everyone will get their part done.”
Collins invited the four Student Association officers to come up and speak about themselves. The 5th graders heard brief introductions from Sandy Klinzman, Diyoni Stith, Mike Phelps and Liz Angle, then the game began. McKinley-Brighton students quickly criss-crossed the room, asking fellow students, teachers, OCC students and administrators questions to see who could get bingo first. The winner was Malaki Davis.
The activities were part of an ongoing partnership between McKinley-Brighton and OCC aimed at helping students think about career opportunities and higher education. The pilot program was kicked off during a celebration at McKinley-Brighton in September. More than 200 students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades attended the event.