Kiona Benton High School GEAR UP Amps Up the Traditional College Fair

On Friday, November 21, 2014, after countless hours of planning, Kiona Benton High School GEAR UP in partnership with the high school coordinated a refreshed version of their annual college fair. With the support of Kiona Benton’s new principal, Clay Henry, GEAR UP staff and high school counselors Kimm Minkler and Belinda Loy were able to put together a College and Career Day from 12:00pm-2:40pm that allowed GEAR UP students to not only visit with colleges through a traditional college fair setting, but also allowed students to further explore their interests in careers, different aspects of college, and military options. Students attended four, 35-minute sessions, one of which was the traditional college fair in the high school's performing arts center. The PAC was filled with various college options for the students to explore, including Washington State University Tri-Cities, University of Washington, Evergreen State College, Columbia Basin College, Big Bend Community College, Eastern Oregon University, and many more! During their other 3 sessions, students were able to choose from such topics as Engineering Careers, Computer Careers, Automotive Technology, Cost of College, Resume/Cover Letter, Agriculture Careers, Army, Marines, Air Force, National Guard, Police Department, Fire Department, and more! The event was very successful in that sessions were put together based on student interests. Thus students were able to explore topics pertinent to them. As opposed to having the event during the evening, which had been done in the past, having the event during the day ensured a captive audience as students were already at school, so why not participate! Despite some bumps in the day, the college and career day was such a success that Principal Henry is looking forward to putting on the event again next year! This is a sustainable activity that Kiona Benton High School can continue for years to come in order to maintain a college-going culture!

Kiona Benton High School Seniors Uncover More Potential Colleges

Nov 7On Friday, November 7, 2014, KiBe GEAR UP filled their first 23 passenger bus since Alyse Pivovarnik, Site Manager, started 10 months ago. With a complete change in staffing, KiBe GEAR UP has been trying to gain momentum and turn their program into a more college-going rather than high school completion program. This day was monumental in the eyes of the staff as more students are beginning to understand the importance of visiting college campuses!

At 5:45am, before the sun had risen, students boarded the bus in front of KiBe High School, blankets and pillows in hand, to go on a whirlwind, one day college tour aimed at exposing the students to more college options!

nov 7First stop: Central Washington University. Students were able to explore Central in a more creative self-tour in the form of a scavenger hunt. As students will be soon navigating college campuses on their own, GEAR UP staff sent students on the hunt for important buildings on campus including a residence hall, the library, the financial aid office, and many more! KiBe students were able to feel the pressure of their first day of class on a big, new campus, and thus they learned the importance of getting to campus early, as well as attending welcome week events! Upon completion of the scavenger hunt-college style, students boarded the bus to head to University of Washington at Tacoma.

Prior to arrival, students were informed about the 3 different University of Washington campuses and the way their degree would read a “University of Washington” graduate regardless of the campus they attended. To our surprise, we were greeted by fabulous fall weather in Western Washington—not a single rain cloud in sight! Albeit a simple college tour, many seniors walked away interested in applying to UW Tacoma despite the fact they were not thinking about applying prior to their visit. Many students could tell through the one hour tour that they would feel comfortable calling UW Tacoma home for the next 4 or so years. To end the tour, students enjoyed the mystery of the echo circle, where you can stand and say something and only you will hear the sound echo! After visiting the student store and buying UW Tacoma swag, along with grabbing a quick bite at the local Pita Pit, students boarded the bus—Seattle Pacific University-bound!

nov 7At Seattle Pacific University, the group of students was divided for a tour to allow for a more intimate tour atmosphere. Students were wooed with chocolate chip cookies in the dining commons and later got to see the inside of a triple dorm room. Students at Seattle Pacific took pride in their school as they made positive comments to KiBe students as they walked by about why they should attend SPU. The tour guides both also had a natural enthusiasm for the campus and shared some of their favorite activities. One activity involves the boys each taking a girl from their sister floor out on a friendly date to allow for greater bonding and community. Many students again walked away from the short time on campus excited to continue their education armed with knowledge of another campus they want to apply to. One such student left the front of the group and said in a very serious manner, “Ms. P.” “What’s up,” site manager, Alyse Pivovarnik, responded somewhat concerned by the student’s serious tone. The student continued, “You need to help me apply here!”

After eating dinner on the road and completing their event feedback form, students were able to show the information they gained as Ashley Myers, College & Career Planning Specialist at KiBe, asked questions about the different campuses. For each correct answer, students received a prize collected through donations from community resources such as Gesa Credit Union and colleges. Some would say that those whirlwind, short tours of campus were not as effective as a more focused, in-depth tour and that may be so, but the amount of students that walked away feeling inspired and enthusiastic about continuing their education and even applying to the visited schools was plenty to impress KiBe GEAR UP staff. Doors were opened and dreams were created.

KiBe GEAR UP Explores Careers at the Reach Center

On Monday, November 3, 2014 at 4pm Kiona Benton HS GEAR UP students and parents boarded a bus to the REACH Career Fair. Upon arrival all were pleasantly surprised by the abundance of representatives from various professions within the agriculture, environment, natural resource, and energy fields. Students made their way around talking with representatives from Tri-Tech to the University of Idaho to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Students and parents were able to take breaks from the career fair to enjoy the exhibits within the Reach Interpretive Center and eat pizza. As they explored possible career paths and colleges, they were able to mark one more table off that they had visited on their passport. Once completed, their passport was put in a drawing for gift cards to iTunes and Starbucks. Three lucky KiBe GEAR UP students won gift cards and were definitely glad they made the decision to attend!

Kiona Benton GEAR UP Explores Health Careers at WSU

On September 27, 19 Kiona-Benton High School GEAR UP students in 9th, 10th, and 12th grade boarded a bus at 6 am to explore health careers at WSU for their Health Career Fall Preview. GEAR UP staff partnered with the Kiona Benton High School science teachers to offer this exploratory experience. Although a Saturday, the students were willing to wake up early and attend because they knew it would positively benefit their future.

Once at WSU, the students were broken up into groups based on their intended career path. Options included pre-med, pre-dentistry, pre-vet, and pre-pharmacy to name a few. The students attended sessions including a student panel and a professor panel. After lunch at the Southside Cafe, students worked off their food hiking the hills of the WSU campus. The highlight of the trip was the opportunity to go inside the cadaver lab. Some students were excited to see the cadaver lab, while others were afraid to go in. Once inside, the staff eased the students into the idea of seeing a human body. Students held human hearts, lungs, kidneys, and brains! After seeing the parts of the body, the students all gathered around as they revealed a real human body they were examining. Although some were not as pleased with going inside the cadaver lab, all walked out experiencing an unforgettable opportunity!

Ki-Be Seniors GEAR UP for College Applications

xKi-Be GEAR UP seniors came back to school early to be part of a college boot camp aimed at preparing them for the upcoming college application process. The weeklong boot camp began on August 4, 2014 and went through August 8, 2014. Students sleepily dragged themselves into the classroom at 8:00am on Monday to begin the information and website exploration part of the boot camp.

xMonday through Wednesday, students were taught various bits of information pertaining to the application process such as, courses needed to go straight to a university, GPA requirements, the difference between the SAT and ACT, and of course financial aid. Students even took a career assessment to either confirm or make them think more deeply about their career choices. Upon being fed information, students were then able to apply it to themselves personally as they did a scavenger hunt throughout the three days that involved looking for specific information pertaining to their college of choice. For example, while the minimum GPA to apply to Washington state universities as determined by the Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) may be a 2.0, students were able to see what the average GPA of students admitted to their chosen school was. To break up the monotony of sitting in a classroom for 4 hours, we also had the students participate in ice breakers and physical activities.

xAfter these three days of instruction and exploration in the classroom, students were able to attend an overnight college visit to the Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland areas. On Thursday, students, some still in pajamas, loaded the bus at 7:00am to embark on the journey West. The action-packed day involved visiting University of Washington at Bothell, University of Washington at Seattle, and Seattle University. The favorite college of the day, across the board, was Seattle University, which many students admit they did not know existed or were not thinking about. After the college visits, students had time to explore Pike Place Market and enjoy dinner at Red Robin. We finally check into our hotel in Tukwila around 7:30pm and the students had no issue with lights out at 10:30pm because after our long day of walking and exploring they were exhausted!

x Friday, after grabbing breakfast at the hotel, we visited Pacific Lutheran University, Washington State University at Vancouver and University of Portland. The most surprising campus of the day was Washington State University at Vancouver. The campus was small in terms of how many building are on campus, but large spatially as it is about the same size as the main campus and offered some amazing views. After our whirlwind tour of 6 colleges in 2 days, everyone deserved and most indulged in a shake at Big Jim’s in The Dalles on the way home. We arrived back at Ki-Be at 9:30pm with very enlightened seniors. Our small but mighty group of students all agreed they thought others would also enjoy this GEAR UP trip because it was informative, interesting, and they learned a lot about the colleges as well as themselves.

WSU Tri-Cities
WSU Early Outreach