Incoming Oxford College freshman Ayanna Kosoko, from Stone Mountain, painted a butterfly on the face of 5-year-old Angela Lemus at Riverside Estates on Thursday morning. Oxford students gave school supplies and played with the students as part of a community service project during OWN Oxford, a pre-orientation program to get students acquainted with the community. Staff Photos: Michelle Floyd
COVINGTON -- Rising college freshmen from Georgia and more than a dozen other states got a taste of Newton County this week.
About 60 incoming Oxford College students attended OWN Oxford this week during which they got a chance to meet fellow classmates, take a closer look at the campus, visit places in Newton County and even participate in a service project for young Newton County students.
This is the second year for OWN Oxford, a chance for a small group of students to meet fellow classmates and learn more about the campus before they attend an orientation and move to campus next month to start two years of liberal arts classes.
"Ultimately, we want them to feel connected to the institution, to feel a sense of pride," said Honi O'Kelley, an organizer of the event. "To understand that, as the newest members of the community, they help shape it."
Students were asked to bring one or two school supplies that would be used for a service project this week.
"They brought shopping bags full," said Kim David, another event organizer. "I was in tears."
On Thursday, students distributed bags filled with supplies like notebook paper, pencils, glue, markers and notecards to school-aged kids in Riverside Estates in Newton County.
They also painted youngster's faces, played carnival games with them and blew bubbles at the mobile home and RV park.
The event was held through the Path Project, a national organization that set up a program at Riverside Estates last school year that targets student residents with an after school program and year-round activities. A group of Oxford College students visited the neighborhood one afternoon per week last year, and the team plans to visit it two afternoons and one morning per week this year.
David said the program helps students with school supplies and homework and also gives them mentors to look up to and aspire to be once they grow up.
Also this week, students had dinner on the Covington Square one night -- they had a choice to visit one of the several downtown restaurants. Afterward, they went to Scoops and then Game Time.
Future Oxford students also enjoyed campus meals, game and karaoke nights and dinner with college Dean Stephen Bowen. They also stayed at the dorms, visited various buildings on campus, had some down time to get to know one another and learned some campus history.
Fifteen Oxford College sophomores -- called Oxford Welcome Leaders, or OWLS -- also assisted with this week's program.