Welcome to WSU Early Outreach
On August 26th, the first day of school, Finley GEAR UP was excited to have motivational speaker Hoan Do present to the students of River View High School. After a strong recommendation from a GEAR UP partner school, Site Manager Amandalyn Rubio was eager to have Hoan come out to Finley. Speaking professionally for over 6 years, he has traveled across the United States and to parts of Canada sharing his practical advice for succeeding in school and in the real world. He uses his own experiences, highs and lows, to connect with his audience.
The students of RVHS were immediately hooked by Hoan and were really impressed with the fact that he recently competed on NBC’s popular show American Ninja Warrior. Hoan’s first message began with a simple metaphor; the thoughts in your head are like a radio. He went on to explain that when you’re listening to the radio and a “whack song” comes on, what you do is, you change it! The same thing should be true for the thoughts in your head. When your thoughts start to drift to negativity, “You’re not good enough”, “Just give up”, “You won’t succeed”, choose to stop those thoughts and change them by using the phrase, “Hold Up! That is Whack!” he then had the entire RVHS student body stand up, hold their hand out, and yell out the saying that has become synonymous with Hoan himself, “Hold Up! That is Whack!”
Hoan’s second message was based on trying new and different things. Becoming part of a school club, participating in a new sport, anything that can take you out of your comfort zone and help you broaden your social group and perhaps help you discover a hidden talent.
Hoan’s last message was for students to surround themselves with the right people. He gave examples of times when he was in high school and he would choose to study or practice wrestling and some of his friends would tell him things like “oh, do you think you’re better than us” those were the kind of people that Hoan didn’t want to surround himself with because their negativity could only bring him down. He advised River View students that surrounding yourself with people who want you to succeed and want to help you, good friends, teachers, or family, will push you further in school and in life.
At the beginning of his presentation, Hoan had begun with a story about a high school assignment. This assignment, titled the Rock Star Assignment, was a daunting task. It required students to stand in front of the entire class and lip sync a song. He explained to the students that he did not want to do it and was terrified about what people would say, he thought that his peers would make fun of him. The assignment was required though and he had to do it to pass the class, so he came up with an idea, chose a positive attitude and performed for his class. As a finale to Hoan’s presentation, everyone in the River View High School gymnasium had the treat of witnessing the same performance he had put on in high school. Donning a blond wig and cheerleading skirt, Hoan performed a cheerleading routine while lip-syncing Toni Basil’s “Mickey”. The students erupted in laughter and applause.
After the assembly concluded, Hoan stayed in the high school commons and opened
himself up to questions and pictures from the students. To coincide with one of Hoan’s messages about trying new things and getting involved, the River View High School clubs set up tables to give students a chance to see what the school offered in extracurricular activities and what they could get involved in. Clubs in attendance included: FFA, FCCLA, International Club, Drama Club, and GEAR UP. After the club fair, GEAR UP had three new GEAR UP Ambassador applicants, FCCLA gained four new members and FFA had over a dozen new member applications turned in and more are still rolling in. It was great to see so many of the students stay and talk to Hoan and explore what their school had to offer and it showed how well his message was received.
Having Hoan Do as a speaker for the first day of school was a great way to start the new school year off and his positive messages and advice can help assure that Finley GEAR UP students will have a successful year.
September 23rd is Senior Parent Night in Soap Lake and all seniors should attend with at least one parent. Parents and students will be able to ask questions of the administration, counselor, or GEAR UP staff. Presentations will be made by the counselor and GEAR UP staff for all those who attend.
In addition to senior projects and graduation requirements, GEAR UP will be presenting information on college applications, scholarships and FAFSA. All parents and students will receive valuable information on all of these topics and they will leave the meeting with a valuable timeline for their seniors. These deadlines are important to know because scholarships and college applications all have different deadlines that they will need to know in a timely manner.
Seniors bring your parents and parents bring your students to this important first meeting of the year for seniors!
This summer at Touchet School marked the second year of the Summer STEM focus. Students participated in hands on activities in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Classes were taught by Touchet School Math and chemistry teacher Karl Loree. Students had week long sessions and week had a different focus. Activities included bridge building and design, robotics, rocketry, forensic science and math. The new twist to this year summer was the forensic science. Mr. Loree used a crime scene kit that made students act as if they were forensic scientist. They used DNA, finger print and hair samples to solve a crime. The students were very involved and it was a good hands on learning tool that helped put things into focus on what it would be like to be a crime scene investigator. During the rocketry unit students used home made devices and math equations to calculate heights of rockets. Students would record the data in their logs and Mr. Loree would them analyze the data. All in all it was a good summer and the students involved had a great time and learned in the process
On August 20th, the week before the 2014-2015 school year began for the Finley School District, GEAR UP, in partnership with Finley Administration, brought in Communication Across Barriers speaker, Lynda Coates, to provide River View High School teachers’ professional development before the start of the new school year. Finley GEAR UP Administrators had previously heard Lynda speak twice at the GEAR UP West Conference and appreciated her first-hand knowledge and ideas on poverty. They felt like she would be great for the Finley School District staff to hear, mainly because of the prevalence of poverty in the Finley area. Born into generational poverty Lynda Coates is an authentic speaker who focuses on overcoming poverty as her main message.
When Lynda started her presentation to the staff, she began with her own story. Throughout her childhood her and her five siblings were often living out of cars and campers and rarely attended school. She had two living parents, however her father was an alcoholic and struggled to find work and provide food and shelter for his family, and her mother could not read or write. Growing up Lynda had a special connection with a cousin, Donna Beegle, which would turn out to be the most important connection of her life. At 15 years old, Lynda moved to Portland to live with Donna. Ten years her senior, Donna was a high school dropout and young single mother, but encouraged Lynda to stay in school. Lynda stayed on track, and became the first high school graduate in her family.
At the same time Lynda was graduating high school, Donna was encouraged to obtain a GED and head to college. Donna did, and Lynda followed. Lynda attended s small private college in Portland, and her networking group grew vastly. She was met with more opportunities than ever before and was able to travel, study abroad, build friendships and experience a life she had never known existed. She would eventually go on to finish not only her undergraduate degree, but a master’s degree as well. In her presentation, Lynda directly compares her life after moving to Portland, and her sister Tammy’s back home in one timeline. Tammy’s life was extremely different in comparison. While Lynda’s world view was growing and she was having new and eye-opening experiences, Tammy was at home, without as much as a high school degree and unable to pull herself out of a lifetime of poverty.
After presenting on her own life and experiences Lynda moved on to how administration, teachers, and staff in schools can connect with families in poverty and how best to serve them. Lynda presented 8 strategies that schools could use:
Strategy #1- Withhold Judgment
Strategy #2- Connect Via Oral Culture & Teach Print Skills
Strategy #3- Practice Seeing Strengths
Strategy #4- Focus on Enrichment & Core Skills vs. Remediation
Strategy #5- Foster Belonging
Strategy #6- Influence Motivation by Creating Shared Meaning
Strategy #7- Build Assets & Social Capital
Strategy #8- Build a Full Resource Backpack
Lynda feels that these strategies along with the single most important action educators can take, being a mentor, can really help students and families living in poverty have strong connections with schools and can give these students opportunities to be successful.
GEAR UP was so glad to be able to bring Lynda out to Finley to start the new school year off and was pleased that in partnership with the presentation, the district purchased Dr. Donna Beegle’s book See Poverty…Be the Difference for all certified staff. Throughout Lynda’s talk, Finley School District Admin, Teachers, and Staff were engaged and interested in what she had to say. When asked how she thought the presentation went, Lynda said “They were great! Attentive, and seemed happy to hear it.”
A big thank you to Finley GEAR UP, Lynda Coates, Barb Donaldson with the Finley School District, and Michael Harrington for making Lynda’s visit possible.
The first week of July was the end of summer school. Freshman students completed credit for Algebra, Geometry and History. The students participated in a raffle on the last day.
Alejandro Romero, SAS, targeted businesses for donations. Several businesses have already donated including 24 Fitness, Prosser Family Fitness, Miranda’s Meat Market, 6th Street coffee, Cellular Plus, Show n go, El Buen Gusto, Golden Yan, KFC and Subway. Most donations are gift certificates. Sharing GEAR UP with the business community is exciting!
Mr Romero and Site Manager Mrs Bea Roland, attended NCCEP conference. This was an incredible conference with networking, fantastic sessions and speakers. At the conference, awards were given to GEAR UP partner, professional, parent and student of the year. Mr Romero interfaced with GEAR UP staff from Chiawana, Kennewick and Southridge sites. Mr Romero plans to network/collaborate on a more regular basis with other GEAR UP sites. On the last day of the conference several students shared their plans and passion for GEAR UP. These students were a pleasure to hear.
One of the sessions attended by Mr Romero was preparing for National GU week. At this session, we received several ideas. One takeaway was that it did not matter when the event happens rather that it does happen. Prior to hearing this, I believed the dates were rigid. This was helpful to know for future reference.
In other sessions, speakers “Coach D” Andrews and Aric Bostick challenged GEAR UP staff to have high expectations this coming year. Mr. Bostick electrified the group with his enthusiasm. Mr Bostick encouraged the group to enjoy life and their vocation.
Finally, Mr Romero and Mrs Roland will also attend AVID institute San Diego, late July/ early August.
This year’s summer school was not “summer school.” We call it The Summer Science Program. It is designed to provide GEAR UP students an opportunity to experience science in a fun and interesting way. The return is students who look for career possibilities in science and math fields. This year’s focus was on participating in interesting science activities including: physics and engineering, designing, building and testing model structures. Students took a scientific look at the Touchet River and extracted enzymes from local fungi and analyzed them for biofuel production. The Summer Science Program was a hit. Students were able to work with DNA and analyze food for genetically modified ingredients (GMO’s). The program ran for six weeks with a high attendance of 22 students. Thank you to our Sciences teachers Clint Reser, and Doug Yenney.