Finley GEAR UP Ambassador represents River View High School at Summer Retreat

Carlos Orozco shown in bright blue shirtIn early August, River View High School Junior, Carlos Orozco took a trip to Pullman, WA for the first annual GEAR UP Ambassador Retreat at Washington State University. Carlos was the only student in attendance from Finley, but joined ambassadors from other eastern Washington high schools, including Kamiakin, Chiawana, Ki-Be, Burbank, Connell, and Kennewick High school, among others. 

During the retreat, Carlos’ days were filled attending multiple learning sessions. These sessions taught the students how to network with others, team building exercises, communication, & mentoring skills. The sessions helped build the students ability to form positive relationships with peers, employers, and teachers, and become good leaders. 

Carlos and the other students stayed in one of WSU’s newest residence halls and were able to meet current students and professors, giving them a very similar experience to being a real college student on campus.  As a way to tour the campus the students took part in a fun scavenger hunt that led them to different buildings all across WSU.

As the first student from Finley to attend this trip, Carlos did not know what to expect, but went with a very open mind and ready for a new experience. “If you go into a place and you don’t know anyone you can still have fun.” He also said he learned a lot and would recommend the retreat to other GEAR UP Ambassadors.  One main thing he took away from the trip was to never expect anything when meeting a new person, whether it is a fellow student or a future employer, just to talk to them. “I can utilize what I learned to apply for scholarships, get a job, and succeed in college.”  

River View High Welcomes New Principal with New Ideas

Chris Davis is the new Principal at River View High. He comes to River View from Enterprise Middle School in Richland. Two very impactful, necessary, new initiatives brought to light by Chris this year are College GEAR Mondays and welcoming new cohort students to the grant.

The College GEAR Monday’s idea was presented to River View staff during a PLC at the beginning of the school year. Each staff was asked to wear a college t-shirt, sweater, jacket, etc. (can be alma mater but not required) to create more exposure to Finley students on the various colleges out there. The reception has been positive and almost everyone has worn their gear!

Upon presentation of the GEAR UP grant to Chris, he posed a great question on how new students were made aware of the grant and its offerings. There has never been a formal introduction of GEAR UP staff to new students at the beginning of the year-so one got scheduled. It was held on October 19th in the lecture hall. 13 total students were invited to hear about the GEAR UP grant from staff and student ambassadors. Some students were familiar with GEAR UP from their previous school; others had never heard about it. This opportunity was great both for the GEAR UP staff as well as new students. A new student meet and greet will be on the agenda for every school year moving forward. 

Thank you Chris Davis for your immediate partnership and collaborative efforts!

GEAR UP Summer STEM Camp 2015

GEAR UP’s summer STEM camp started Monday, June 15th and went until Thursday, June 25th. Eight, 2 hour days were filled with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math centered activities. These activities were both fun and educational and were put together by GEAR UP tutors Sarah Garza and Erika Martinez and River View HS GEAR UP Site Manager Amandalyn Rubio.

On the first Monday, the first activity was a collection of Brain Teasers. The students had to work on different teasers with ranging difficulties. There were a couple that stumped the students but they enjoyed trying to problem solve individually and as a group. The next thing the students did was make Oobleck. Oobleck is a non-Newtonian substance made of cornstarch and water that is classified as both a solid and a liquid. The students had fun experimenting with the Oobleck.

On Tuesday, the students took part in a Paper Airplane Challenge. Some of the students found it difficult to make paper airplanes but they enjoyed testing out different designs and trying to make them fly. The second activity of the day was making slime. The slime was made out of Elmer’s glue, Liquid Starch and water, which combined chemically to make a slime substance that the students were able to play with without it sticking to them.

Wednesday, students made their own Homemade Ice-cream in a bag. The students started by adding basic ice-cream ingredients cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla into a Ziploc bag. They then added that bag into a larger Ziploc bag that was filled with ice cubes and ice- cream salt. Both bags were shaken for up to 20 minutes. The shaking caused the salt to melt the ice which dropped the temperature surrounding the ice-cream mixture, causing it to freeze. Everyone really liked this activity and said the ice-cream actually tasted really good. After the ice-cream activity the students made their own Popsicle stick catapults, using Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, spoons, and cotton balls.

Thursday, the activities were the Balloon Rocket Car Challenge and the Newspaper Challenge. The Balloon Rocket Car Challenge gave students the opportunity to make a balloon rocket car out of recycled water bottles, straws, caps, skewers and balloons. They were then able to race their cars against each other. The Newspaper challenge tested the students’ ability to build a sturdy table able to hold a large textbook out of 8 sheets of newspaper, an 8 in. by 11in. sheet of thin cardboard, and masking tape. Two students completed the semi-difficult task.

The second Monday of the camp students participated in a Math Scavenger Hunt where they had to race around the classroom while trying to; for example, find an object that measured exactly 5 inches. The second activity of the day was learning about the components of blood. Props included water beads, foam pieces, and ping pong balls as blood cells and platelets. A large cutout person made out of paper also showed the students the blood flow through the body.

Tuesday, students had the opportunity to make their own lava lamp out of recycled water bottles, water, oil, food coloring, and Alka Seltzer. The students thought the chemical reaction that made the solution look like a lava lamp was really cool. On this day students also took part in a graphing activity. They had to make a picture on graph paper using plotted points and make a rule set so their partner could make the exact same picture on a blank graph. This was an activity they had previously done in Math class.

Wednesday, students were treated to STEM Jeopardy in the Lecture Hall. This homemade Jeopardy included the classic components of Jeopardy including Double Jeopardy, Daily Doubles, and Final Jeopardy. Categories were based on STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and also included a Pop Culture category.

The last day of the camp the students competed in two challenges. In the Spaghetti Challenge student pairs were given 20 pieces of spaghetti, 1 yard of masking tape, 1 yard of string, and one large marshmallow. The teams had 20 minutes to build the highest spaghetti tower using their given materials that they could. The only rule was the marshmallow had to be at the highest point of the tower. It was interesting to see the different approaches the students had to the challenge. The final activity was the Egg Drop. The ultimate objective for the Egg Drop Challenge is for students to build a protective casing for a raw egg so that when it is dropped from a height of 10ft it will not break. One of the main rules for the challenge was the egg had to be visible by at least a quarter sized opening and had to be able to be taken out of the contraption after the drop. The students were able to use up to 12 different types of materials and had a fun time showing their creative sides.

Overall the STEM camp was a success for the program. A total of 8 students participated during the two weeks and seemed to really enjoy all the educational activities and lessons that were put together for them.

A special thank you goes to GEAR UP Ambassador Carlos Orozco, for being a positive role model and for his leadership amongst the 8 students that attended the camp. He was an integral part of getting some of the students to attend during the two weeks and made all efforts to help GEAR UP staff with any tasks that needed to be completed.


Finley GEAR UP Explores 4-H Teen Conference 2015

While students arrived to Gannon and Goldsworthy dorms to register and check in on Sunday afternoon, on June 28th,they all were very excited to start the festivities. They talked with their new friends and waited to head up to their dorm rooms. After settling in their rooms, students went out and explored the Washington State University campus with their adult GEAR UP supervisor. Some students went to the rec center to jump in the pool, play volleyball, or do some exercise. Exploring the WSU campus was very rewarding for the students because they got to become familiar with the campus while also having fun with their new acquaintances.

As students transitioned from a little free time, all students were directed to Thompson Flats to have a large barbeque. Shortly after having dinner, the students sat on the grass and had a motivational speaker, Carlos Ojera Jr. talk about how important youth empowerment is and how students need to be their own voice. It was very clear that students made at least one connection with Carlos because they all raved about him. Carlos touched all students and adults when he revealed that he is deaf but has overcome the struggle he had with his disability as he was growing up.

As the adult supervisors made their way to their orientation meeting, students stayed with the 4-H conference leaders and participated in all sorts of group challenges and ice breakers. After the sun set, students and their adult supervisors all made their way to their dorm rooms and called it a day.

Early Monday morning, some students went for a run or participated in exercise activities. After this, students gathered for breakfast at Southside Dining Hall. From breakfast, all students broke off and walked to their assigned workshops. An interesting workshop was the Handwriting Workshop that focused on teaching students lost workplace skills. At this workshop students got to learn about the two different writing types of print, which are D’Nealian and Standard print. Students practiced these styles by writing in both. Other workshops included student’s definition of citizenship and also about the connection 4-H has with Burundi. This workshop included some team building skills by having the whole group hold a bed sheet as tight as possible and then have a ball, which represents the globe, roll around without falling off the bed sheet. The catch was that slowly people started to let go of the bed sheet which represented people dying off, and in result made students realize that without teamwork and the people in our world it would be very difficult for the world to function. This workshop also informed students that WSU 4-H is raising money and awareness to give back to Burundi sister schools because of their current financial situation.

Once students finished their last workshop they made their way back to their dorm rooms to get dressed for the evening banquet that was held at the Schweitzer Building. Students were presented with a fancy dinner that was paired with a guest speaker who spoke about different ways of preparing oneself for college and the future. Following the banquet, students were bused back to campus and some got to listen to another speaker, Tyler S. who spoke about his tragic car accident due to reckless speeding while others played games and participated in craft activities with other students.

On the last day of the 4-H Teen Conference, students enjoyed a nice buffet style breakfast and then walked over to the CUB building. There, students were spilt up into two big groups, one attended the Career and Education Fair at the CUB Ballroom and the other group traveled to the CUE Building and participated in the Who Wants To Be a Credit Card Millionaire Financial Literacy Workshop. This workshop taught students about the different terminology in the credit world. Students got to play Who Wants To Be a Millionaire with questions that were related to credit.

After students got to talk to different universities and companies at the Career and Education Fair, they were sat down for a conference closing. Guest speaker, Carlos Ojera Jr. spoke about losing his father so abruptly and how that tragic event made him realize that he regretted not doing more with his father before he lost him. He told students that they needed to tell their family or whomever they are close with, that they love them because they need to know that. It was an emotional speech but also an impactful one because students were able to connect with Carlos. Following the speaker, students were given their Ignite Your Future t-shirts and were instructed to write what ignites their futures inside the flame that was printed on the back of the shirt. After that, students were given the opportunity to sign each other’s t-shirts and then they were saluted with a goodbye from all the camp leaders and director Jan Klein and encouraged them to come back again next year.

Thanks to River View High School GEAR UP, 4-H Teen Conference, River View High School Principal, Bryan Long, and everyone else who allowed these students to experience this Teen Conference. These students had a great time at the 4-H Teen Conference up in Pullman. Irene Cuevas specifically said, “All the workshops were my favorite part of the conference and also my roommate.” Another Finley 4-H camper, Andres Flores said “My favorite workshop was workshop A (Combat Challenge).” Andres also mentioned that before he attended the 4-H Teen Conference he was set on joining the Military after high school but because of the conference he was introduced to another career option which is becoming a firefighter. These students were glad they got to experience such a wonderful exposure to college life and said they really enjoyed the 4-H Teen Conference.

River View High GEAR UP Opportunity for New Partnerships in 2016

River View High School will be saying farewell to its administrator of 4 years, Bryan Long. Bryan will be moving to the district office level as a Human Resource Manager. Bryan will be sorely missed, but River View, along with GEAR UP are anxious to welcome new principal Chris Davis to the building. Chris is coming to Finley from Enterprise Middle School in Richland. He has extensive knowledge of the GEAR UP grant, has coached, been advisor to countless clubs, and of course worked as an administrator.

In addition to losing Mr. Long, River View will also be replacing the English department with two recent Washington State University graduates: Katie Griggs and Kendra Waters. GEAR UP will be busy building new relationships with staff at River View. The AVID elective will be taught by Katie Griggs who is attending Implementation in Spokane during the month of July.

A special thank you to Bryan Long, Tyler Hogg, and Deanna Eisenbarth who have all been very supportive of GEAR UP initiatives and supporting the grant and its objectives in any way they could.

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