Due to the current pandemic, Moses Lake High School (MLHS) GEAR UP, along with GEAR UP programs across the country, are having to get creative on how to reach and serve their students. The MLHS team has decided to approach summer programming by offering a variety of programs that can be conducted at-a-distance and target students with an array of interests. This summer, MLHS GEAR UP will be offering:
Paradigm Shift Leadership Camp - We will have a handful of students participating in this four-day, virtual workshop camp that will teach valuable leadership skills!
Book Club - For the month of July, we will be reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas with 10 interested cohort students. As a part of Book Club, students will be assigned weekly reading assignments and will meet on Thursday afternoons for an hour to discuss the reading, share their thoughts, and connect with peers and GEAR UP staff. We are also hoping to offer an August Book Club for our students.
Career Pathways Program - The Career Pathways Program will support students in preparing for future careers through career exploration and research, identifying their career pathways, building a quality resume, identifying ways to display professional etiquette and communicating with professionals, and building videos to share the career knowledge gained through the program. This program is open to all cohort students and will operate once a week for four weeks. We currently have 7 students participating weekly.
Ambassador Program - Beginning in early July, we will be recruiting, interviewing, and confirming student ambassadors as part of our student leadership program. Ambassadors will help us plan our student outreach events, build relationships, gain college knowledge, and build valuable leadership and professional skills.
SAT Student Workshop - At the end of July, we will be offering a 2-day SAT/ACT workshop that will enhance student understanding of college entrance exams and test strategies to prepare for their upcoming PSAT and SAT test-taking.
CoolSpeak Power of Youth Camp - Through continuous attention and engagement, participants in this camp will learn about each aspect of power and how to effectively implement that aspect of power in their own lives. MLHS will be advertising and recruiting cohort students.
MLHS GEAR UP Hotspot - Our Hotspot program offers a monthly workshop for students and covers a variety of topics, including time management, job etiquette, organizational strategies, self-care, creating an academic portfolio, and more. This summer, we will be offering a July and August Hotspot that will cover Creating a Resume and Email Management.
Parent Workshops - In August we will also be offering a two-part parent workshop where we will share information about building student academic portfolios.
Starting with a new Principal, a new Superintendent, and the Classes of 2022 and 2023 being reunited under one roof at the high school. All this allowed for an extremely fun NATIONAL GEAR UP WEEK that took place September 23-27, 2019. Teachers participated in college door decorating. Students explored and shared colleges they were interested in and collaborated with upperclassmen to learn their process for applying to post-secondary schools. During lunch, the WSU GEAR UP Advisory Committee students put on a college going skit that was derived from true stories from teachers.
Over that summer, a GEAR UP parent from CPHS attended the NCCEP/ GEAR UP Annual Conference and participated in the Parent Leadership Institute in San Francisco, California from July 14-17, 2019. Following the conference, WSU GEAR UP held several parent outreach meetings at WSU Tri-Cities and other site locations with GEAR UP parents/guardians who attended the conference. GEAR UP at CPHS 2019-2020 was geared to focus on parent outreach, financial literacy, and preparing for college utilizing the support from GEAR UP advocates.
WSU GEAR UP was fortunate to have an hour each week with both cohorts during their Advisory period where GEAR UP staff shared important information to prepare students for their college experience. Students learned about financial literacy, scholarships, career exploration using Virtual Job Shadow, and listened to guest speakers and veteran GEAR UP students from the Class of 2018. Students were able to ask questions of alumni who went straight to a 4-year university, community college, vocational school, or into the military; as well as student athletes who play a collegiate sport. This proved to be a valuable and credible method of connecting current high school students to the reality of life after high school. The guest speakers discussed the process of getting into a college, financial decisions they had to make, what it takes to prepare oneself, the importance of academic performance and accountability.
Volunteer students were asked to join the WSU Advisory Committee along with a few parents and the vice-principal. The students had such a great time sharing their thoughts that it became an unofficial, bi-monthly meeting with just the students to discuss upcoming Advisory lessons. The meetings became a superb platform to have a discussion on what GEAR UP needed and wanted to accomplish, and to share information with students. Their feedback was invaluable and made each Advisory lesson more meaningful.
Sabrina Farrens (Class of 2023) had been selected to attend the 2020 Youth Leadership Summit to be held in conjunction with the NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. Sabrina’s guardian was to accompany her and participate in the Parent Leadership Institute. This was to be a 3.5-day leadership training where she would have represented CPHS and over 560,000 GEAR UP students nationwide. Mrs. Blethen presented the opportunity to all WSU GEAR UP cohort students in their Humanities class and a number of essays were submitted to a WSU committee for review. Of the 222 students that would have been attending the conference, WSU GEAR UP students earned eight spots and Sabrina was selected. While there were many amazing essay entries, the WSU committee also announced that (Class of 2023, CPHS student) Katherine Avila’s score ranked her as 6th among the alternates.
College Place High School is a Project Based Learning school and extremely high tech. When the COVID pandemic caused our schools to shut down on March 13th, CPHS was somewhat prepared in that they already used Google Classroom on a daily basis and communicated virtually between classes to collaborate and work on cross-subject projects. What made it challenging was the fact that no one could then work in person to finalize projects and collaborate. The students were accustomed to working in classes to form projects in small groups. Teachers continued to collaborate and work virtually with all 498 students and presented creative ways to keep school positive. WSU GEAR UP staff maintained constant communication with both cohorts, and offered Google Hangouts support sessions where students could get academic support, post-secondary exploration support, and financial support such as financial literacy lessons and scholarship workshops. WSU GEAR UP had already created their own Google Classroom, so GEAR UP was prepared to present their materials virtually, and reached all 251 GEAR UP grant students and their families.
Summer camps had to be updated for obvious reasons and WSU GEAR UP still offered some of the scheduled camps virtually: Washington Business Week, WSU Leadership Power of Youth Camp with CoolSpeaks, and a Paradigm Shift Leadership camp. On top of those virtual camps, GEAR UP continues to work with students over the summer with math and science skills via Google Hangouts, and to assist with the completion of any core class where students need extra support so they can successfully move up with their grade level.
WSU GEAR UP has had some amazing opportunities and experiences this past school year, with more to come!
“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” - Abigail Adams
As a resource and catalyst of change, Juan Cangas from Cool Speak was invited to speak at Kiona-Benton High School this past Spring during his GEAR UP speaking tour.
The anticipation of his arrival was both filled with excitement and apprehension as the high school was faced with the possibility of canceling the assembly due to the fear of COVID-19. Fortunately, schools had not been ordered to cancel group activities or close. Therefore, the assembly went on as planned.
Keep in mind, when we invite presenters to come to our schools to speak to students, our highest hope is, “if just one student is inspired, then it was worth it.” This may sound like a cliché, but that is exactly what occurred! Mr. Cangas’ message grabbed attention, started conversations, and inspire students to take action! After the assembly, Mr. Cangas’ was invited to the GEAR UP office where he continued to greet students. One student in particular walked into the office and proceeded to thank him for his powerful message and thanked the GEAR UP site manager for bringing him to the high school. She quietly explained that on this day she was planning to quit school. However, after hearing Mr. Congas’ encouraging message, she realized what a valuable opportunity she was about to throw away. The next day, KI-BE was ordered shut their doors due to COVID-19. Some may say this was a mere coincidence. Others may say it was fate. Regardless of which side you take, there’s no doubt this event went from merely functional to a powerful presentation that produced lifelong results at Kiona-Benton High School!
GEAR UP is happy to introduce our new Peer Mentors at Prosser High School! These kiddos have made a commitment to assist GEAR UP staff in promoting GEAR UP events, spread information regarding SAT/ACT/ financial aid/ and scholarship opportunities to their peers. They will assist in GEAR UP meetings, spread the latest news about GEAR UP. Congratulations to Karla Martinez, Gabriel Orozco, Juana Martinez, and Jonathan Delgado! They will also create new ways to reach out to the student cohort at PHS. The peer mentors have attended a two day training at WSU Tri-Cities, where they learned different methods and strategies to accomplish just that!
PHS along with the help of GEAR UP, Heritage, and WSU reps, had a successful Financial Aid night on Oct. 3rd! We had over 30+ students and parents come in to receive help with completing the FAFSA/ WASFA. With the help of Heritage/ WSU reps, students and parents were able to complete the application hassle free. Parents were able to receive answers about the process of the application, and what the next step would be. Francisco, a rep from Heritage University, even offered to come in an additional day, to help those who were having trouble completing it at that time. It’s great to see a variety of professionals working on one goal, and that is college bound for the C/O 2017!
As GEAR UP continues their mission to guide students to pursue a post-secondary education, an Act Six & Ready to Rise representative, came down Oct.12th to speak to the students about their scholarship their programs have to offer. Ms. Catalina spoke about the Ready to Rise scholarship which is targeted to students in the lower valley. Her emphasis on the number of Latino students who complete a post-secondary education, and the number was a shocker. Students realized that with the right mindset and attitude one has towards continuing their education will only benefit them in the long run. Ms. Amber and Francisco, spoke about the Act Six scholarship, which is a full ride scholarship to Heritage University. Students were given information about the application process for the Act Six. Making students aware of the free money available to them for college is just one step closer for them to succeed in college.
On July 24, Dayton GEAR UP sent one student to the campus of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA to participate in Washington Business Week. Since we had one student, we were able to ride with the GEAR UP group from Walla Walla.
“Everyone was really nice and helpful. I made a lot of new friends. It was an awesome experience, and I’m really glad I got to attend,” said Lily.
The week-long camp focused on agriculture and energy. At a glance, this is what the week was like. After the welcoming and opening ceremony, we went right into the first session, picking from three workshops/meetings of our choice. Every day we had three sessions of workshops/meetings. By the end of the afternoon we looked forward to dinner and free time from 5:00 -6:00. After dinner we had an assembly with businessmen and women as speakers. Then we had brainstorming after the evening assembly. By 9:00 pm we were back in our dorms for free time. Fun activities were posted on the dorm bulletin board if we wanted to participate. Lights out at 11:00 pm.
The meetings, workshops and speakers were exceptional to help students dive deep into the world of business while providing career and life skills critical to success in any profession. Students had the opportunity of building leadership skills and networking with business professionals. Lily states, that she would not have attended if GEAR UP hadn’t inspired or sent her.