June 16, 2001
Excitement is high at Calvin College as the annual Entrada Scholars Program nears.
On Sunday, June 24 some 44 high school juniors and seniors from across the country will move into the Calvin residence halls to begin Entrada, a month-long summer immersion program for ethnic minority students.
That enrollment promises to be a new Entrada record. And what has Calvin organizers even more excited is that eight of this year's students have a brother or sister who previously attended Entrada. In fact, in seven of the eight cases that sibling went on to become a Calvin student.
"It's very unusual to have this many siblings of former Entrada students," says Rhae-Ann Booker, director of pre-college programs at Calvin. "It's great to see this pattern, especially as it relates to minority families. We've seen it for years at Calvin with majority students. To see it with minorities is a good feeling and very exciting."
Booker, a Grand Rapids native and Calvin graduate, notes that Calvin's Pathways to Possibilities program (which sees Calvin partnering with churches in Holland, Muskegon and Grand Rapids) has helped boost Entrada enrollment this summer.
"About half of this year's students have a Pathways connection," she says. "We had hoped Pathways would help us attrract more West Michigan kids into the program and it has. There are a lot of kids locally who came through Pathways."
Booker says Calvin officials are finding that "the voice of the church lends credibility to doing programs like this (Entrada)" and that Calvin's church ties through Pathways have helped sell the Entrada program.
This year's students include 15 males and 29 females representing African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and multi-racial. All, says Booker, are in for a typical Entrada experience.
The heart of the Entrada Scholars Program is a regular three-week Calvin College summer school course that Entrada students take with the Calvin students. A true college immersion program, Entrada sees the high school students not only take a regular class, but also live in the residence hall, worship and grow spiritually together, eat in the dining hall, study in the library, shoot hoops in the gym, order late-night pizzas, do a service project, get a heavy dose of computer skills -- in other words, have a typical college experience.
That, says Booker, is the whole idea. "We want students to get a true sense of what college -- particularly Calvin -- is all about," she says. "At the end of Entrada, students have taken an actual Calvin class for credit and they've lived on campus for a month. The Entrada experience gives them a good look at what college life entails and what it takes to succeed in college. It also gives them a taste of what Calvin's unique brand of Christian education is all about."
Life in the residence hall also includes a special Entrada residence hall director. Sheri Gilreath-Watts, a teacher at O'Rion High School in Grandville, will live in the residence hall with her husband and three children. She is a former Entrada Academic Coach and a graduate of Calvin.
Since its inception in 1991, about 275 students have completed Entrada. Some have gone on to Calvin; some attended other colleges. Almost all have pursued some sort of post high school education.
NOTE: The 2001 version of Entrada will have an opening Worship Service on Wednesday, June 27 at 7 pm in the Meeter Center Lecture Hall, featuring Rev. Marcus McCaleb of Messiah Missionary Baptist Church in Grand Rapids. The 2001 Entrada Commencement service will be Saturday, July 21 at 1 pm in the Calvin Chapel.