PAOLA — Young students, many of whom haven’t yet begun middle school, recently got a taste of college life during Fort Scott Community College’s annual Kids College at the Miami County campus in Paola.

The two-day camp took place Tuesday, July 16, and Wednesday, July 17, and featured a variety of courses taught by college faculty, students and community members with professional experience in their field.

The camp is hosted by students in the Beta Rho Lambda Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

Buddy Jo Tanck, dean of the Miami County campus, said everything about the camp, including the enrollment process, is designed to give young students a glimpse at what they may be experiencing a few years down their educational paths.

Kids College began in 2014 and continues to grow, with this year’s group featuring students ranging in age from 7 to 11.

Class topics included chemistry, health science, crime scene investigation, art appreciation, Junior National Guard training, wilderness training, cake decorating, earth science, anatomy and physiology, carpentry, ancient tech, biology, physical science, Civil War and reptiles.

The reptile class was one of the most popular, with many students wanting to catch a glimpse of snakes and lizards put on display by Osawatomie High School Science Club teacher Mike Rush and his students.

The reptile class also featured a reunion of sorts when Paola firefighter Cam Johnson dropped off his daughters, Konlee and Maryn. Johnson got to see the science club’s famous albino Burmese python named Einstein, which he believes is the same albino pet python he was forced to give up before he went to college in the early 1990s.

Rush said that’s quite possible, as that is around the same time the club acquired the python.

Einstein has grown a bit, though, as Johnson said the snake was only about a foot long when he owned it, but it now is 11 feet long, weighing 60 pounds.

Editor and Publisher Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or

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