OGDEN -- About 450 fifth- and sixth-graders from Ogden School District got a taste of college life Monday, and they loved every minute of it.
The Ogden School Foundation partnered with Weber State University to give the students a look at what the university is all about.
After their regular school day, students from Dee, T. O. Smith, Lincoln and Bonneville elementary schools boarded buses and met in WSU's union building, where they were met by a huge pep rally complete with the WSU cheerleaders, Waldo, the spirit squad and the school's athletic director.
From there students took an 18-stop tour, visiting different parts of the campus.
After the tour they reboarded the buses and received the royal treatment at WSU's men's basketball game. They were given sack lunches, free T-shirts and WSU lanyards with their names on them. Prizes were also given to students throughout the game.
WSU assistant athletic director Ron Goch said the original idea was to have a fundraiser for the Ogden School Foundation at the basketball game, but as the two groups started talking, the idea of giving students a chance to visit WSU and see a game became the priority.
"We put the fundraiser on hold because we thought this would be pretty impactful for kids," Goch said.
Students excitedly talked about the experiences as they snacked on their dinners waiting for the game to start.
Wendy Martinez, an 11-year-old student from T.O. Smith Elementary, was impressed with the detailed costumes in the theater department.
"It's been a pretty awesome experience," said Wendy, who has a goal of going to WSU and wants to eventually become a doctor. "I think it would be nice to feel like I am helping someone."
Dee Principal Sondra Jolovich-Motes said the experience was fantastic for her students. Her school, along with other schools in the district participated in the "No Excuses University" program, where students learned that everyone should have the goal of attending college.
The WSU visit is part of that plan, said Janis Vause, Ogden School Foundation director.
Jolovich-Motes said experiences like the WSU event on Monday were unforgettable for her kids.
"It is so critical for us to team up," she said of the partnership with WSU. "My kids are now saying, 'I'm going to come back here and go to school.' "
Goch said this is the first of what he hopes are many campus visits by area schools. The program is a win-win for everyone, because not only is WSU working with the community, they are working together within the university to publicize the school.
It also helps meet the goal of making Ogden a true college town, because it is getting young students to see what WSU is all about, he said.
Eleven-year-old Stephanie Townsend loved looking at the stars and just the feeling she had as she walked around the campus.
"It was pretty cool, and I do want to come back here," she said.
Alejandro Nedel had never been to WSU before but plans to come back. He was thrilled with the chance to watch a WSU basketball game -- something he had never done before. He called the experience "just awesome."