River View High School Goes Big to Celebrate National GEAR UP Week

River View High School in Finley did an amazing job in celebrating National GEAR UP Week! National  GEAR UP Week was celebrated from September 22-26. There were so many activities organized that  ranged from a scavenger hunt to a carnival. The entire week was a complete success and many  students were very impressed. Students had a great time participating in the week’s festivities and they  surely let GEAR UP aware of their gratitude. 

The week started off with a scavenger hunt of 32 college logos. Students  had to go around the school and find at least 15 hidden college logos  then write the name and number that was on the logo. Each student was  provided with a worksheet where they were instructed to write their  findings. As the students finished their worksheets, GEAR UP entered  the students into a raffle and a winner was chosen for a prize. This  activity really got the students excited for the rest of the week and what it had to offer.

On Tuesday of National GEAR UP Week, GEAR UP organized a dream wall poster that students were encouraged to sign. The poster was a long piece of butcher paper, which was decorated by Ms. Garza, where students had the opportunity to write down their dreams. Students had the chance to express their life goals and future plans with GEAR UP Staff.

On Wednesday, GEAR UP did an amazing job of organizing a Carnival! This carnival consisted of lots of hard work and dedication that the GEAR UP Staff provided. The carnival really did have a great turn out, many students chose to stay and have some fun. Walking around and seeing all the students laugh and compete against their classmates was very exciting. There were all sorts of games that included the traditional ring toss but also a new one called, TEAR It Up. Students along with all the staff really had a great time.

Thursday consisted of a table set out at lunch where students were able to grab a college themed  coloring page, sit down and color. This activity was interactive for the students because many sat down  with the GEAR UP Staff to color and just converse during lunch. Additionally students were given a 20-  space bingo sheet to play teacher bingo. 

Finally, on Friday we ended the week with a nice surprise for the students here at River View High School. GEAR UP decorated five tables with college give-a-ways such as lanyards, backpacks, and  USBs. The five tables were decorated with Washington State University, University of Washington,  Oregon State, University of Oregon, and Boise State themed decorations along with the incentives that  were laid out for the students. Students were very excited to come to lunch and find gifts waiting for  them. 

National GEAR UP Week could not have been as successful as it was without the help from GEAR UP Staff, River View High School Staff, and parent volunteers. Also, thank you to all the donors that allowed GEAR UP to give prizes with each activity: Purple Peaches, Super Mex, Denny’s, Dutch Bros, and Carmike Cinema.  Everyone had a great time joining in on all the fun activities.

Motivational Speaker Hoan Do Gets River View Students Motivated For School!

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. 

Lynda Coates Addresses Youth Poverty With Finley School District Staff

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.

Finley Middle School Sends Two Campers to Cougar Quest 2014

Two of our lucky students here at Finley Middle School had the great opportunity to visit Washington State University in Pullman, WA and there they participated in Cougar Quest 2014. Irene Cuevas was selected to attend this week long trip because she won the speech contest for Finley Middle School’s 8th Grade Career Showcase and Andrea Rangel was selected for being an active GEAR UP student. Both young ladies were very excited to start their one week of College fun at WSU Pullman. As incoming high school freshman, these two young ladies expressed how excited they are to hopefully attend WSU after graduation.

They said they loved the campus especially the older buildings because they had more historic value. Both Andrea and Irene said they loved the workshops they attended especially the Culinary Journey Around the World because the instructor was very nice and greeting. Another workshop Andrea said she enjoyed was one called Ghost Stories: Investigating the Rhetoric of Fear. She explained that in this workshop the students watched scary movies and they learned about the first two scary movies ever created, Frankenstein and Dracula.

Both students could not have been more excited about telling GEAR UP how much fun they had and how their favorite part was meeting so many students from all over Washington state schools. The girls said they would wake up every morning go down and eat breakfast with their new friends, then participate in activities that were set up for the students, then break off into their assigned workshops, break for lunch, then play some more games with the Cougar Quest staff and students, then have dinner and finally go back to their dorm rooms. They mentioned that the experience of living in the dorm rooms was very exciting and new to both of them.

Andrea said that some fun activities they got to take part in was traveling up to the Ice Cream shop on campus, Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe, and swimming in one of the recreational centers. Both girls said they had lots of fun walking around and becoming familiar with the beautiful campus along with their new friends.

Thanks to GEAR UP in partnership with Finley Middle School these girls had a great week up in Pullman. Andrea specifically said, “My goal is to have as much fun in college as I did at Cougar Quest.” These girls were glad they got to experience such a wonderful exposure to college life and said they loved WSU!

River View Freshman Explore Clean Energy Through Windmill Experiment Class

The last summer 2014 activity for the Finley GEAR UP program was the Windmill class taught by tutor, Lorenzo Luzi. Lorenzo explored and reviewed extensively the Tech Reach curriculum and wind experiment kits prior to agreeing to teach the class.

Originally two girls were recruited for the class at the end of June. One student was unable to attend but luckily a freshman boy was able to step into her spot. Students attended 1 day of class and 1 off site field trip.

The off site field trip occurred on Tuesday, July 22. Students traveled just up the hill from their soon to be high school to the Nine Canyon Wind Project owned by Energy Northwest. Energy Northwest has 4 total projects in nuclear, solar, hydro, and wind energy.

Students received a comprehensive presentation on what Nine Canyon wind project is all about. They generate power, through wind energy that comes off of the Columbia River Gorge. There are 63 turbines that are made in Denmark by Siemens. Students then took an on foot tour of the shop, and actually went inside of a turbine. They were able to ask questions regarding the position, pitch, size, and assembly of the blades. They were able to see the “grid” that controls everything having to do with the turbine.

On Wednesday, July 23, the students constructed their own windmills. They were able to reference vocabulary and helpful facts about constructing their own windmill based on their experiences from the previous day at Nine Canyon.

Each student created their own blade style. The blades were then tested and re-tested. They used a multimeter to measure how many volts of electricity their windmill was outputting. Students were able to troubleshoot various changes to their blades and pitch of their blades before settling on their best windmill design.

Both students that attended the windmill class enjoyed their experience and learned a lot. Students were able to use off site experience at a real windmill site to combine with in class learning and applications.

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