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Community Coffee House aims to spark dialogue

Jan. 20, 2010

By Katy McDowall

Student Government is holding a Community Coffee House at 7 p.m. on Jan. 28 in Barfield Drawing Room.

At the event, students can enjoy free Common Grounds coffee and cookies while engaging in conversation about education in East Waco.

"This is a unique and exciting opportunity for students to join in the community-wide efforts to positively impact education in Waco and to really make a difference," External Vice President Emily Saultz said.

Students will meet and discuss specific issues regarding education in small groups with Baylor and Waco officials.

"Students will be able to go more in-depth with an issue they are interested in," Saultz said.

Students can discuss reading programs and other initiatives already being carried out within the community and how they can get involved, Saultz said.

"We're hoping Community Coffee House is a way for students to sit down and talk openly and candidly with administrators and local government officials about where students can fill the needs for volunteering in the city of Waco," Kate Williams, student government communications director, said.

The event will begin with a speech from Archie Hatton, principal of JH Hines Elementary School, discussing the education-related needs of the East Waco community.

"He's going talk about how Baylor students are already meeting those needs and the existing ways for the student body to get involved," Saultz said.

Student Government already partners with JH Hines through a reading program for students on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

Following Hatton's introduction, Greenville senior Greg Bond will share his experience of the reading program at Doris Miller Elementary School last semester.

Dr. Joel Scott, with the Baylor Leadership Program, will talk about the importance of developing sustainable relationships with the community.

Then, the EVP Office will unveil their long-term vision for Baylor student involvement in education within the Waco community.

"We want it to be a shared vision for the student body," Saultz said.

The EVP's Office wants students to give feedback and help move the vision forward. Students will have opportunity to give feedback during the event.

After the introductory presentations, tables will be set up in Barfield where students can divide into smaller groups to discuss issues with representatives from Mission Waco, the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations.

As well as discussing existing education initiatives, students will be able to discuss which needs are not yet being met within the community.

"We're building the bridge between Baylor and Waco," Williams said.

The idea for the event came from the External Vice President Cabinet: Cypress sophomore Zach Rogers, ; West Des Moines, Iowa sophomore Kelly Rapp; Fort Worth junior Destiny Henderson, and Amarillo junior Kelsey Jones.

"Our focus is reaching out to include the Waco community with Baylor and we decided a good way to do that is through the means of education and enhancing the educational experience for people, especially in the elementary schools in East Waco," Rogers said.

The event promotes the EVP office's platform, "It takes a village."

"The village is not only Baylor but Baylor with the Waco community, all of us as one," Rapp said.