The Harding University Partnership School brought its entire student body to the UCSB campus last Friday to participate in educational activities with several UCSB faculty members and students.

The school, located in Santa Barbara’s Westside, entered into an official partnership with UCSB’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education in January 2010 to provide essential resources and a rigorous curriculum for its students. Harding currently enrolls 600 students, preschool through grade six, with 90 percent of the student body considered economically disadvantaged and 60 percent learning English as a second language.

According to Gevirtz School Dean Jane Close Conoley, the alliance fosters a relationship between the university and the children’s families while also giving graduate students first-hand instructive experience.

“We bring the Harding community to UCSB as a way to ensure that our children and parents feel they belong on a university campus,” Conoley said in a press release. “In addition to the cutting edge learning opportunities they will experience during the visit, they will be welcomed by UCSB students, faculty, and staff as a way to invite them back as university students.”

Since forming the partnership with UCSB, Harding’s Academic Performance Index has increased 57 points, giving it the second highest API growth of any school in Santa Barbara County in 2011.

The event offered a variety of advanced educational activities and simulated studying at a university. Preschoolers and kindergarten students attended a session lead by the Dept. of Exercise and Sports Studies, while sixth graders participated in an integrative session of “Oceans-to-Classrooms.”

Director of UCSB Adventure Programs Rod Tucknott, who led an activity for preschoolers and kindergarteners titled “Play with Purpose: Movement Education,” said the visit gave instructors the opportunity to practice learning in action.

“The activities today are wonderful,” Tucknott said. “There’s a good positive energy among the kids, and I’m thankful that I can teach through activities.”