University continues ETHS partnerships with 4th Kits n’ Cats day

Jeanne Kuang, Assistant Campus Editor

Evanston Township High School students spent Thursday exploring Northwestern life as part of the Kits n’ Cats program.

About 100 ETHS sophomores and juniors attended the biannual event designed to introduce NU and other higher education opportunities to potential first-generation college students and those unsure about what they want to do after high school. Kits n’ Cats, which was held for the fourth time Thursday, began in October 2011 as part of University President Morton Schapiro’s Good Neighbor, Great University initiative to strengthen ties between NU and ETHS and offer scholarships to local students.

ETHS is sending 11 students to NU in the fall as part of the class of 2017.

“My goal is to raise that over 20,” Schapiro told the Kits n’ Cats attendees before the day’s events in Norris University Center’s Wildcat Room.

Schapiro gave the students a brief introduction to the college admissions process and talked about financial aid at NU. Both he and District 202 superintendent Eric Witherspoon emphasized the benefits of a college education, citing not only NU but also other univerisites in Illinois.

“Whether we’re lucky to have you here, whether you go to Urbana or you go to UIC or you go to Loyola or whatever it is, go to college,” Schapiro said. “It’s going to be a chance of a lifetime, not just financially but personally and socially.”

The ETHS students toured the campus, hearing NU students speak about their experiences and participating in programs in fields such as engineering, history or radio.

Recent years have seen an increase in University efforts to reach out to ETHS students. In September 2012, the Northwestern/ETHS Partnership Office was established at the high school. Kits n’ Cats itself has grown from originally hosting about 30 students.

“I think it’s bringing a huge benefit to high schools when we can have access to so many of the resources and the intellectual capital and the research that’s going on on this campus,” Witherspoon told The Daily. “It definitely enhances what we do at the high school level.”

He said he foresees the positive relationship between the two schools strengthening even more in the future and believes Kits n’ Cats serves to “enrich the experience on this campus” by highlighting the importance of a diverse student body.

Lucile Krasnow, NU special assistant for community relations, said Kits n’ Cats has generated excitement about NU among ETHS staff and students.

“It’s to introduce kids to college life, take it wherever they are, just be excited about what their future could be,” she said, adding she hopes to see the program become a longstanding tradition.

Schapiro echoed that sentiment in his speech to the students, saying he wants to see them realize their potential.

“I think everybody in this room cares about making society a better place,” he said. “And there’s no better way to do that than get a degree from as prestigious an institution as you can, to learn as much as you can and then to give back to a world that needs a lot of our help.”