And they’re off! Walla Walla High School GEAR UP sent 43 students and 6 parents to Universities and Colleges across Washington, Oregon, and Idaho this spring and summer. Students participated in engaging campus tours and interactive career planning at banks, Boeing and investment agencies. Students and the parents were inviting to participate in one of 3 trips funded by GEAR UP dollars with the goal of getting students and their parents on campus at regional colleges that fit their interest. Students got a full picture of campus life from school representatives that were able to give robust tours of departments and highlight what their campuses had to offer. One group got a bonus opportunity of attending a tour of Boeing, this is a much sought after ‘ticket’ and not very many people get to see the inside of this factory so it was a big treat for those students.
Students left each trip with a better understand of what they need to be doing now, in high school, to ensure success in college or in a career based learning environment. These trips didn’t come without homework, students had pre-work that they had to complete in order to attend and evening group work while on the trip. Students worked in groups to reflect on what they had seen each day and collaborated with each other on what they can do now to ensure a smooth transition after high school.
On Wednesday May 11, 2016 Kiona Benton City High School GEAR UP hosted a scholarship workshop after school and one on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 during lunch. The scholarship workshop was hosted in the KiBe High School computer lab. The primary website used by the students was Unigo.com. This website has some scholarships that require students to write responses to prompts that are 250 words or less. During the May 11th workshop 4 students attended. As a reward, each of the students received a Dutch Bro’s gift card. During the May 24th workshop a total of 10 students attended the workshop. The increase in attendance was in part due to the GEAR UP ambassadors bringing a friend with them. As an incentive to the students completing scholarships, each scholarship they completed would get them an entry into a drawing for a Dutch Bro’s gift card.
The scholarship workshops were a great success! Each of the students in the workshop was able to get a least one scholarship done. Some students got up to 4 or 5 scholarships done! Due to this workshop being successful, KiBe GEAR UP plans on hosting a scholarship workshop every Wednesday after school in the upcoming school year to build consistency and place an emphasis on the importance of applying for scholarships.
On Thursday, May 12, 2016 Kiona Benton City High School GEAR UP took 4 sophomores and 2 juniors to Perry Technical Institute. This trip came forth due to the realization that there are students interested in career opportunities offered by Perry Technical Institute. During this campus visit, GEAR UP decided to use the district van due to it being more cost efficient and allowing a more career-focused visit for a small group of students.
The KiBe group arrived at Perry Tech at around 9am and were greeted by Kayla, the tour guide. Upon arrival Kayla asked each of the students what programs they were interested in so that she could take the students to each of the departments. The students mentioned they were interested in the Electrical Technology, Welding Technology, Construction, Instrumentation Technology, Automotive Technology and Agricultural Equipment Technician programs. Kayla provided each of them with pamphlets of their program of interest. Before heading out to visit the location of the programs, everyone was given safety goggles.
First, Kayla took the group to visit the Electrical Technology program, which is a 2-year program. The instructor of the Electrical program took over the tour and explained what to expect from the program. The instructor took the group into a classroom where a couple of students in the Electrical program were taking an exam. While in the classroom, the instructor explained how the students will get more hands on work as they move further in the program. The instructor talked about the methods used to help the students learn and how important it is to be able to work as a team. After showing us the classroom the instructor took the group over to the lab area. While at the lab area the group experienced what hands-on learning experience looks like.
After attending the Electrical program, Kayla took the group to the Welding department. The students were allowed to look around at the work area and speak to the instructor. The instructor informed the group that the Welding program is a 1-year program. Towards the end of the program the students are required to go out and practice their welding skills at their desired location. The instructor also pointed out that there is a high demand for female welders at the moment.
The group moved on to the Automotive Technology department which is also a 1-year program. While we were there we had the opportunity to take a look around their shop. Kayla explained that the students in this program spend about 2 hours in the classroom and the rest outside working in the shop. This program is set up so the students only work on cars made in the year 2000 and after. The students in this program also have the privilege of getting a 50% discount on Snap-on tools. This allows the students to have their own tools once they are done with the program. Kayla also explained how the students have to wear an all-black uniform while in class because that is the type of attire the students would wear during their career.
The group made a quick stop next to a tractor to briefly discuss the Agricultural Equipment Technician program. This program is new and will have their first students this fall. Kayla explained that the reason for having this program is because they had employers asking for workers who knew how to operate the new tractors and machinery being used in the agricultural field.
Next, the group headed to Perry Tech’s newest building which houses the Instrumentation & Industrial Automation Technology program and were given a quick tour of the building. During the tour Kayla showed us the station where students swipe their card to clock in and out of their class just like a job, and each department has one. If the student does not clock in the instructor will call and check in on why the student did not show up. Students who complete this program learn the entry level skills to control the automated process used to manufacture products. This is a 2-year program that requires students to learn applied mathematics, calculus and physics. The students learn the math, then have the opportunity to apply it during their labs.
Kayla escorted the group back to the main office and provided the students with more information about each program. The students enjoyed the visit and had a better idea of the environment Perry Tech provides. The juniors who attended the trip received the information they were looking for as well as completing the campus tour that is required in order to apply for Perry Tech.
The trip concluded with lunch at Panda Express before heading back to KiBe High School. Using the district van for a career-focused trip proved to be very beneficial to the students. The GEAR UP staff at KiBe plan on using the District van and having bi-monthly campus visits in the coming school year.
School is out and summer vacation is here! With the temperature rising, GEAR UP staff has been keeping cool and has given Prosser HS a lending hand for their summer school program called Red Comet. This program is set up for students to retrieve any missing credits they had missed in previous years. Summer school hours run from 7:30 am to about noon Monday through Friday. Breakfast is provided by the school district and is available outside the classroom.
Red Comet works similar to the former credit retrieval PHS had, APEX. However, APEX was a lot more lenient than Red Comet, and allows teachers or observers (GEAR UP staff) to view the students’ progress on the course they are currently taking. Students are required to complete at least 9 hours per week, and check in with GEAR UP staff 3 days out of the week. So far we have heard great feedback from the students. One student stated, “This is so much better than APEX. It is simpler.” IF the program continues to be successful, PHS is considering extending this program year round. Right now we have about 60 or more cohort students who are enrolled in this program.
On June 20- 23, Mrs. Wilson took 10 students to the Columbia Basin College Preparing for College Success Camp. Here the students were able to identify the benefits of attending a community college rather than a 4 year university, develop public speaking skills, and interact with students from Ki-Be, Finley, Kennewick, and other schools. During the camp, we tour CBC, and came across the Planetarium, and the mini theatre they have on campus. Most of the students were fascinated by the small lecture of the solar system and the different stars. They watched a short video about Black Holes, which went into depth about what they are and how they work.
On the last day of the CBC camp, the students had to develop a poster that answered all the prompt questions that was in their packet. They were able to work on this poster the last day of the camp, and had to present their final piece at the parent night, later that afternoon. Some of the students were freaking out, thinking they had to present their poster in front of everyone at the parent night. However the students only had to present to their parents, and walk around to see other students’ work. Pizza, cake, and drinks were provided by CBC. Overall the students enjoyed the camp, and were very fortune to receive two college credits from CBC. Most of the students that attended this camp were running start students who attend CBC.
Giving back to the community is a major role in this small town of Prosser. Most students during their summer vacation, work so they can buy school supplies for the following school year. However we have two PHS students, who have been volunteering at the Keene-Riverview with summer school. Brenda and Paola Ixta are sisters, who find joy in giving back to their community. Every morning starting June 20- July 8th, they have volunteered their time to help teachers at the Keene-Riverview with summer school. They work with kinder through 5th grade.
Even though school is out, GEAR UP is still working hard to expose students to continue their education after high school. We have a couple events that will do just that. First off we will be heading out to Washington Business Week, July 10th through the 16th. A few weeks after that we will be traveling to Seattle from August 9th-12th, to visit a variety of colleges and universities in the Seattle area.
Marlon Ramirez is GEAR UP at Southridge's student success of the year! He made major improvements with his grades as a Sophomore during the 2015-2016 school year. He improved each class by almost 2 letter grades! I caught up Marlon at the end of this school year to find out what had changed from last year.
He decided that rather than focusing on improving his habits, he focused on changing his attitude to school and his habits followed. Marlon told me that “Before I didn’t care, I didn’t want to do [the work],” he said. “Now doing homework is second nature. It’s a habit. I just do it. When I saw good grades that lifted my spirits. I check my grades often, before I didn’t check them at all.”
He also developed a support network of his dad, his school counselor and GEAR UP staff. He focuses more on school and said “It has been worth it! GEAR UP gave me tips, showed me what I should have been doing. My GEAR UP advisor also helped me see where I was headed and where I wanted to go. Southridge’s Sun Time (the after school tutoring program) helped me understand work I was confused by in class. I also got more help than I could in class.”
Marlon went to tell me that “I have no regrets for this semester. College seems attainable now, not impossible.” Marlon is thinking about going to Columbia Basin College and then transferring to a 4 year college after he gets his AA. He hopes to major in something related to computers or cars.
I asked if there were any other effects from his improved grades. He said his parent don’t harass him about grades anymore and he has been given responsibility at home and at work, because he has stepped up at school.