Teen Conference 2015 "Ignite Your Future"

On June 28, a group of Columbia High School students participated in the Teen Conference 2015 in Pullman Washington. They were Isaac Garcia, Weston Gordon, Lexus Shepard, Jasmine Marquez, Cable Schroder, and Anna Tolrud. They were able to join in with 400 other 4-H students in different workshops. One of the workshops was Examine the Evidence where students discovered what it is like in a real crime lab and explored the expanding fields of forensic science. Another workshop was A day in the Life of a Vet. Here students spent two hours observing small and large animals and learning the things it takes if they are interested in a career in veterinary medicine. In the next class Combat Challenge, students learned the physical requirements of being a firefighter and saw if they were up for the job. In the last workshop How to Land a Job, the group was told who was hiring youth and professionals. A panel of local employers shared ideas with them as to what they are looking for when hiring. After many hours of 108 degree weather the students were happy to go home and rest.

Making My College Dream a Reality

In March, three Columbia High School students, and their parents, traveled with Site Manager, Florinda Carrasco to Pullman for the 2015 SOLES (Society of Latino Engineers and Scientists) Latino Parent Conference. This event gave the students and their parents the opportunity to visit Washington State University and participate in hands on workshops in the science and engineering fields. The families were able to tour the science and engineering buildings and got to see first-hand some of the college student's work and experiments. The families were then able to hear presentations about the admission's process and financal aid, all in Spanish. The families got the wonderful opportunity to hear from not only guest speaker, Beatriz Schweitzer, who together with her husband build the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories but also from Latino students. The students talked about their own personal experiences at WSU. One of the students was in the process of obtaning her Doctorate degree. The parents were able to come away with a lot of useful information about the importance of higher education awareness and this event gave them the tools to help them navigate through the college process. Though it was a long day, the students and parents walked away with a lot of useful experiences and information.

"It's Decision Time" for Columbia Students

4H Teen ConferenceThree Columbia GEAR UP students had the wonderful opportunity to travel to WSU to attend the 4H Teen Conference. They were able to interact, strategize and learn about themselves with over 350 other delegates from around the state.

While there, they attended four sessions on various topics, ranging from physical fitness and what key it plays in being successful in college to learning about their leadership styles. The three days were packed with team building activities, guest motivational speakers, a college and career day, a texting and driving seminar and of course lots of fun!

This year’s theme was, It’s Decision Time.  The kids learned that it’s decision time when it comes to their future.  Now is when they need to be looking towards their future and the work that needs to be done to make it a success.  This conference gave them the tools to build the foundation of their future, with not only knowledge and education but with leadership, caring and apathy for others and their world. 

4H Teen ConferenceMotivational speaker, Houston Kraft, was a highlight of the trip.  Houston spoke of the different types of love and how they apply to your daily life.  His message is regardless of what you choose to do in life or what you fear, always choose love.  Love of yourself, your world, your family, your friends and most importantly the “love” you show those you just meet.  Choosing to show those who you do not know love, impacts their lives in ways we may never see. “While we can’t choose how we feel, we can choose how we act. While our everyday words and actions may seem small, their impact can be tremendous.” (  Houston’s message of also conquering your fears, especially when it comes to college is a powerful thing.  Not letting your fears dominate your life and understanding fear is a feeling and love is a choice was his main message to the delegates.  Always choose love.

CHS student, Michelle Maine said, “My favorite part of the trip was getting to learn about different college courses and though I may choose one field, it’s never too late to tweak it or improve upon it.”  Reece Humphreys said, “Houston Kraft was the best motivational speaker I have ever heard.”  Jade Bohannon echoed both Reece and Michelle but added that making new friends from all over the state was her favorite part.  All three students gave it an 8 on a scale of 1-10 and when asked why not a 10, they all said because it wasn’t long enough and it had to end!

GEAR UP Senior's Path to Success

Matt BouldsI personally have known Matt Boulds since he was in 6th grade. He was a feisty kid who was well liked by his peers, yet had trouble containing his enthusiasm for life in a classroom setting. Matt is a tremendously gifted poet and was honored with being published at the ripe old age of 14. While attending Columbia Middle School, he became published in the book Celebration of Poets, and won first place in his local library’s poetry contest. Matt also became published, yet a second time, while attending Columbia High School as a sophomore. This time his poem became published in the national FFA Magazine. Though Matt has had his fair share of success, he’s also had his fair share of struggles. As an incoming freshman his grades reached an all-time low of 2.05, barely keeping him eligible to play sports. When Matt was asked why he struggled, he said, “I didn’t take high school seriously. I was lazy and could care less about investing in my education. I wish I would have believed that grades really do matter.” Matt also had experienced a lot of family tragedies, all which seemed to encompass his finals at school. However, the GEAR UP and high school staff knew Matt had amazing potential and gave him the opportunity to attend Cougar Quest, the summer after his freshman year. Both Matt and his mom credit this camp as a pivotal point in Matt’s high school life. While attending Cougar Quest Matt said it was fantastic to experience the life of a college student. His favorite part was “taking” an Econ class. It was as if Cougar Quest jump started his love of school, his grades and his outlook on his education. Matt took full advantage of his school’s GEAR UP program. He attended multiple field trips and in true Matt spirit, poetically describes the Spring break trip they took to the University of Washington. When I asked Matt what are the most important aspects of his school’s GEAR UP program, he had two. “I think the campus tours are by far my favorite. You truly get to have a firsthand experience and see the schools. Also, having help with my college applications was a tremendous help. Whenever I became stuck, Mr. Copeland and Mrs. Atencio would always be there to help.”

This winter Matt was an integral part of Columbia High School’s boys basketball season. The Coyotes were league champions, which is definitely a highlight of Matt’s high school days. Matt’s school spirit has also awarded him his school’s Super Fan award more than any other student. This award is given out to the student who shows the most school spirit while at a sporting event. Matt is a definite stand out in the football stands.

Matt will be graduating from Columbia High School this Spring with a 3.95 G.P.A., as well as, an AA degree from the CBC Running Start program. Matt has been accepted to the University of Washington at Bothell. He will be studying to be a Physician’s Assistant and is considering specializing in either a surgical or orthopedic field.

Matt’s favorite classes at CHS would have to be any of the math classes he took with Mrs. Waters (Geometry, Trig/Pre-Calculus) and Ms. Custer (Algebra 2), and Foods class with Mrs. Williams.

Matt is a shining example of not only a success story but of how GEAR UP can help to change and shape a student.

Financial Aid/FAFSA Night A Huge Success at Columbia

Families from the high school and middle school battled the snowy and icy conditions to attend GEAR UP’s Financial Aid/FAFSA Night on January 7. Families were treated to a wonderful dinner from Fiesta Restaurant while they listened to GEAR UP Site Manager, Julianne Atencio, speak about the basics of the FAFSA. After parents had the opportunity to ask questions, the parents and students broke into groups to attend workshops specific to their needs.  Seniors and their parents went to the library where they filled out the FAFSA with the assistance of GEAR UP staff and CBC’s financial aid expert and Columbia parent, Kamara Brooks. While seniors and their parents filled out the FAFSA, the rest of the parents attended a session provided by GEAR UP parent outreach specialist Mayra Mendoza.  Parents filled out the FAFSA Forecaster so they could have a better understanding about what they will be expected to pay when their students get to college. The parents found this very helpful and were talking about what they had learned after they left the session.

Students attended sessions based on what grade level they are in. Juniors worked with GEAR UP staff and WSU Tri-Cities students to do further research on a career path they would like to pursue.  The students learned about the requirements to get into those majors and were able to ask the college students questions about attending college.  While the juniors were exploring careers, freshmen and 8th graders were learning how to begin saving money for college and different ways to pay for school once they get to that point. 

This night was a very successful night and we know our students and families are one step closer to being college graduates!

WSU Tri-Cities
WSU Early Outreach