De’Shon Dixon finds solace in athletics — they are his escape.
This much was clear for the Flint native and Northern High School senior, as Relient K’s “Be My Escape” pumped through the speakers at Morey Courts Recreation Center, 5175 E. Remus Road.
Dixon was one of 76 students from five Flint-based high schools and middle schools to participate in Friday’s “Up All Night” event, which aimed to give pre-college students a chance to experience the university atmosphere.
The hopeful football recruit spent the majority of Up All Night playing basketball.
Between breaks from shooting baskets, Dixon said Central Michigan University was one of the schools he was considering for his college experience, and he was looking forward to leaving home.
“Flint is kind of rough, so I’m ready to get out on my own, take care of my own responsibilities,” he said.
Up All Night was arranged by Central Michigan University’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs staff and provided Flint students with a variety of events, ranging from board games, indoor athletics, movies and food.
The event followed CMU’s 18th annual CommUNITY Ball, which celebrated the end of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Week. The ball featured a dinner, theatre performance, live music and dance for all in attendance — including the students.
Mary Henley, director of GEAR UP, said this is the sixth year students from Flint have come to the ball.
“This gives us a chance to expose students to campus — the ultimate college experience,” she said. “A chance to get them excited in higher education.”
GEAR UP targets McKinley Middle School, Holmes Middle School, Northwestern High School, Northern High School and Classical Academy in Flint. The program offers college-bound students a chance to gain academic skills, information and encouragement prior to heading to a university.
Tina Natale, GEAR UP academic adviser for McKinley Middle School, Northwestern High School and Classical Academy said the CommUNITY Ball was a chance for students to experience a fun aspect of college life.
“This is an experience that our students would never get,” Natale said. “It’s an eye-opener. It’s the social part of being on campus. For some students, this is the first time they’ve been on any college campus. It’s a big deal.”
Natale said a portion of the students attending were high school seniors that had already been admitted to CMU.