Southridge explores STEM Camp

11 Southridge HS students were invited to attend STEM Exploration Camp in July. Students were selected based on recommendations from their advanced math and science teachers. They spent 4 days visiting three different technical work sites to meet professions in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields and to participate in hands-on activities to explore STEM careers.

The first day was spent with Kadlec Hospital. Students attended a presentation on health care careers. Students were surprised how many different career paths are open to them; besides the standard of doctor and nurse, there are specialties and a wide variety of support staff. They broke into groups and toured the Hospital and Columbia Basin College’s Richland Health Science Center. Students enjoyed trying out the practice robotic surgery machine. Then Occupational Therapist Dawn Niccum and Physical Therapist Ashley Manry spoke to the students about their professions and demonstrated some techniques and exercises. Students were surprised by how difficult small exercises used by the physical therapist were. After a break for lunch, Students received two wonderful hands-on presentations from Respiratory Therapist Edna Felix and Audiologist Dr.Curtis Woolf. It was amazing how small and ingenious hearing aids are and how audiologists can help people hear.

The second day was at Irrigation Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) in Prosser. IAREC runs the State AgWeather Net System which consists of 166 weather stations across the state and growing. The weather stations update every 15 minutes. The information from the stations is available online at The students learned about each part of the weather station. Then they toured IAREC and observed a working weather station.

IAREC consist of a group of scientist and research who run the system and do research using the information from the weather stations to benefit agricultural growers and wineries. The students talked with the professors and graduate students about their research. Then students came up with and researched their own research question use the weather station data.

The third day students visited LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory in Hanford. LIGO is a joint research facility supported by MIT and CalTech that as LIGO states “seeks to detect gravitational waves -- ripples in the fabric of spacetime. First predicted by Einstein in his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves are produced by exotic events involving black holes, neutron stars and objects perhaps not yet discovered.”

Students toured the facility and got to watch controllers in the control room. Students were matched with an employee and shadowed the employee, which many said was the highlight of the day. After lunch, the students tried to model a Laser Interferometer, a very difficult task, but several group achieve the patterned waves of light indicating success.

The fourth day students invited their parents to attend a dinner and discussion with their student of what students have done during the camp. Parents enjoyed touring LIGO and learning about what their student has been up to. Parents were very enthusiastic about the experience and the opportunity of their student to be exposed to these STEM facilities.

Southridge Freshman visit Central

On May 8th, 2015, GEAR UP at Southridge HS took interested freshman with a 2.0 GPA and no Fs to visit Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA. We started off with a campus tour by student tour guides, then an admissions presentation, followed by a student panel, and ended with lunch.

We started our tour in the Recreation Center. The Recreation Center has a rock climbing wall, an elevated indoor running track, basketball courts, and up-to-date fitness facilities for students. Then we saw student dorms, the Nicholson Pavilion, the International Center, and CWU’s brand new Science Building, including a fresh water turtle in an animal exhibit in the Science Building. We also got to visit the older historic parts of campus and take pictures in front of Barge Hall, a beautiful old building with a bell tower that was Central’s first building. Last we toured the Student Union Building, which includes a cafeteria and the book store.

The admission presentation discussed guaranteed admission with a 3.4 GAP if they have taken CADR classes (4 years of English, 2 years of lab science, 3 years or Math, including algebra I, algebra II and geometry, 3 years of social science, 2 years of world language and 1 art credit). The ACT/SAT test scores of those student do not matter in regards to their admission. Test scores for students with a GPA from 3.0 to 3.39 will affect their admission. Students with GPAs below 3.0 will be reviewed and admitted based on their test scores, GPA< senior year schedule, and test scores. A college admission essay is not required but it is recommended for students below a 3.4 GPA. It also discussed the majors available at Central.

Students were interested to learn that while they can earn college credits by taking AP, College in the High School, or Running Start classes, they are still considered first year college freshman and must live on-campus and are eligible for scholarships for new freshman.

Then we attended a student panel by student ambassadors. The panel focused on what it is like to attend CWU. The two student ambassadors discussed living on campus, class sizes, roommates, studying abroad and what classes are like. They described the variety of student living arrangements and dining options. Dorms are mixed in with academic buildings at CWU so campus is a community. They also discussed dorm advisors and academic advisors and how they help students. The student ambassadors also praise the variety and quality of food and dining plans available. It was clear that the student ambassadors love Central Washington University.

After the student panel, we ate lunch in the cafeteria at the Student Union. Our always-hungry freshman loved the cafeteria, which has so much more than their school cafeteria. After they got their fill, we made a quick stop at CWU’s bookstore. Then we got back on the bus for the long trip back to Kennewick.

CWU made a big impact on our students. The student were impressed by how CWU takes care of their students and many options for major, and living and dining exist. Many said they are interested in going to CWU and would make a 3.4 GPA their goal.  Others who had never gone to a college campus before were surprised how much they could see themselves enjoying college. Overall we were pleased to find to visiting CWU made college much more of a reality for our students.

Southridge Suns visit Eastern Eagles

On April 23, 2015, Southridge HS sophomores visited Eastern Washington University (EWU) in Cheney, WA. Students had an action packed visit, including an admission presentation by Lakeisha Jones, a campus tour, and lunch at a student cafeteria.

Southridge students arose with the sun and joined GEAR UP Staff to catch the bus at 6:15 AM. We arrive at 8:45 AM and visited EWU’s visitor center. After decking ourselves (really just the students) in temporary Eagles tattoos and stickers, we made our way through campus to the Science Building to have our admission presentation in a EWU classroom.

Our Southridge Sophomores were surprised to learn that they could get in to EWU without an essay or without worrying about their SAT/ACT score. If they have a 3.3 GPA and have taken 4 years of English, 3 years of math (Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Geometry), 3 years of social studies, 2 years each of laboratory science & language, and 1 year of fine arts, they are automatically accepted. If they don’t have a 3.3 GPA or didn’t take those classes, then they can go through the review process and EWU will look at SAT/ACT scores, GPA, classes taken, senior year schedule, and essay responses.

Students can apply for admission to EWU the first semester of their senior year. They can also apply to scholarships before they have been admitted, as long as they have applied.  Lakeshia also strongly encourages students to apply for financial aid are soon as possible.

Eagle Ambassadors gave our students a rockin’ (pun intended) tour of EWU’s lovely campus. Tour highlights include the basketball/ice skating rink and the rock climbing wall, the EWU book store, and the Pence Union Building. Students were really impressed by the campus and EWU’s emphasis on student well-being. Our sophomores are definitely considering starting something big!

Student Success at Southridge: Denver Rangel

Denver RangelGEAR UP at Southridge High School serves lots of great students, but Denver Rangel, a current 9th grader at Southridge High School and a GEAR UP Ambassador, has made some of the most notable improvements.

In 8th Grade, Denver felt his grades were bad and that bothered him, but he ignored it by choosing to think school wasn’t important. He explained that he goofed around and was lazy, especially slacking on his homework, and that was a big factor in his poor grades. Denver wasn’t motivated to change his ways. He just wanted to have fun with his friends. Denver’s teachers, GEAR UP Staff and his family became concerned that he wasn’t reaching his potential and was falling behind. They worked with Denver and he managed to pull his grades up and pass.

First semester of 9th grade, Denver took high school pretty seriously, but he got lazy and started slacking at the end of the semester just like in 8th grade. He was ashamed of his grades at the end of the semester. He decided to change his behavior by doing the following:

  • No slacking
  • Go to the After School Tutoring Program
  • Ask Questions
  • Get help when I need it from teachers and GEAR Staff
  • Participate more in class
  • Study at home, especially for test and quizzes
  • Take more notes in class

He has really improved his grades, but he still has some work to do. Denver is particularly proud of improving his Biology grade from D+ to an A. He is working hard to stay focused, but has found it’s really hard to keep all of his grades up all the time. A couple grades slipped down a little bit.

Denver feels that improving his grades improved his self-confidence and he takes school more seriously when he does better. He thinks he is influencing his friends to do better too. His mother said she was proud of him. Denver is proud of himself too, but thinks he can do even better.

We have been inspired to see that Denver’s motivation is no longer from an outside source, but from himself and his desire to achieve his future goals. Denver wants to be an engineer and go to either WSU or UW. He knows he needs top grades to do that and he is doing the work to get them. Also he is eagerly taking advantage of every opportunity. He signed up to be a GEAR UP Ambassador and attends every meeting. He also attended our Career Success Workshop Series and won a Scholarship to Cougar Quest, and has signed up to attend WSU-TC’s Summer STEM Camp. We look forward to Denver’s continued success here at Southridge and beyond.

Career Success at Southridge

Career Success Workshop FlyerAs summer is approaching and students are starting to think about summer jobs, GEAR UP at Southridge High School decided to help students get ready for career success by hold a series of workshops to teach soft skills, interviewing, team work and other career-related skills to students. To make the workshops even more enticing we offered several scholarships to Cougar Quest at WSU Pullman for students who attended all three workshops and wrote an essay.

GEAR UP at Southridge decided to use materials from Junior Achievement, because they have a ready-made kit with seven 45-minute lessons on Career Success that feature themes we wanted to cover. We decided against doing the lessons one at a time, because our students have too many conflicts; sports, fieldtrips, doctor appointments, and family obligations. We grouped the first 3 lessons together, and then put lessons 4 &5 and 6 & 7 together to make three workshops. We decided to hold the workshops on Kennewick School District’s monthly early release days, when student have less conflicts and more time is available for workshops.

Scholarship WinnersWe made daily announcements over the intercom, put up spiffy flyers all over the school, made a huge sign on our bulletin board, and have manned a table at lunch advertising the workshops. The GEAR UP Ambassadors also announced the workshops in Navigation.

We had 35 students sign up. 23 show up to the first workshop and 17 to the second.

The first workshop was on critical thinking and communication. Students worked together to solve problems and communicate clearly. The second workshop focused on the hiring process and interviewing. Students practiced interviewing and then a local business owner spoke. She gave the student real perspective on what supervisors are looking for at the interview and on-the-job. The third workshop covers work priorities, looking for work, and personal branding.

The qualifying essay for the scholarship to Cougar Quest asked students to answer three questions in their essay: “What was one thing that you learned from the GEAR UP Career Success Workshop that you can apply to getting and keeping a job? How will attending Cougar Quest help you with your college success or goals? Why do you believe you should be a recipient of the Cougar Quest Scholarship?” We required a minimum of 600 words, with 200 words per question.

12 student submitted essays and we decided to award them all the scholarship. Two students wrote essay of particular note. Anika Walker wrote a heartfelt essay. Her clear voice and clarity made her essay outstanding. She wrote that, because of the workshops, “I feel more confident that I will do better in an interview….[and] I feel less stressed and better prepared … for the job I want.” Anika also said that she “hope[s] this experience will help me become more passionate about becoming a vet[erinarian]…[and] broaden my experience with other careers.” The other notable essay was written by Denver Rangel. Denver wrote that people see him “as a goofy kid that messes around,” but they miss his persistence and dedication. He wrote that he “want[s] to have a great future and do what is best for me.” Many students expressed their appreciation for the workshops and how the Career Success Workshop will help them get and keep jobs and help with their careers.

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