KiBe Kicks off Summer with the 2015-2016 GEAR UP Ambassadors

This spring, GEAR UP staff collected applications and interviewed candidates for the opportunity to be a GEAR UP Ambassador for the 2015-2016 school year. Thirteen ambassadors from the class of 2017 and 2018 were selected and are now ready to kick-off the summer with several fun, educational, leadership activities.

During the last week of school, ambassadors came to the GEAR UP room for an afternoon of relationship building. The afternoon started with a potluck lunch that included homemade tamales, mac ‘n’ cheese, Hawaiian roll sandwiches, and various desserts. While eating, students were given an M&M and received a corresponding question based on the color of their M&M. It was important for the ambassadors to get to know each other’s names so the group took a few minutes getting to know their peers’ names along with their favorite food.

The next activity involved getting to know each staff member and ambassador’s life story. Everyone drew their favorite toy as a kid, what concert they want to go to, a special memory, an adult (other than their parents) whom they really respect, something they would like to try that they haven’t done yet, and a job they would like to have in the future. Everyone shared their story and learned about each other’s backgrounds. The students began learning how they were alike and different from their peers, which started a few positive side conversations.

Once the group got to know a little bit more about each other’s backgrounds, it was time to learn how assumptions could block our ability to really get to know a person. Two groups each came up with a list of fifteen cliques, ethnics groups, and people with diverse interests that are represented at Kiona-Benton High School. The groups were read aloud and ambassadors stood up if they were a part of the group. They were told that all the representatives of different groups are what make up the community at Ki-Be High School. The most important idea from this activity was that we have to see people as individuals and not as labels. In fact, many of the students identified as being from multiple groups. At one point, a student pointed out that site manager, Alyse Pivovarnik, stood for both the jock and nerd groups, and asked, “So were you beating yourself up?” Alyse explained that people can be members of multiple groups and that is what makes well-rounded human beings. This activity was definitely a learning moment for the Kiona Benton GEAR UP Ambassadors.

The last major lesson was about suspending judgements. The purpose of this activity was to suspend judgements and see that individuals have their stories. The challenge is to hear their stories. Everyone was paired up and directed to stare at each other for thirty seconds, which proved to be pretty uncomfortable for some students. The partners then stood back to back and were asked what they thought their partner’s dream car, favorite breakfast cereal, type of music they listen to, future job, and hobbies/ things they do in their spare time are. After discussing these judgements, everyone saw that their answers had some truth, but most were completely wrong.

Two goals were accomplished with this training. The first was that students were able to bond as a group. Sure, some students “knew” each other from classes, but they realized how much they did not actually know. The group shared an afternoon of laughter, good food, and fun. The second goal was that students received insight about the culture they have to work to change at Ki-Be. Even their own judgments and assumptions hindered their interactions with their peers. The ambassadors are going to work on creating a college-going culture within the school and now know that they have to overcome suspending judgements and assumptions of their peers in order to effectively do so.

KiBe GEAR UP Ambassadors Get Their Peers Involved During the Spring College Week

Kiona-Benton High School GEAR UP staff decided their ambassadors needed to have another opportunity to get involved and be leaders amongst their peers before the completion of the year. Thus, we decided the week of April 27 to May 1 would be our “Spring College Week” to keep students motivated to work toward their academic goals. The ambassadors were divided into teams of 2 or 3 students that included at least one upperclassman and one lowerclassman. Teams had the remainder of that week to come with an idea for a college-related, lunchtime activity and submit a completed form with a name for the activity, action steps, material needs, and individual responsibilities. The students produced interactive, college-themed activities.

On Monday, the ambassadors posted up printed out images of college mascots and two competitors would have to try to reach the described mascot first. The students were racing around the commons creating quite the buzz amongst the rest of the student body. The principal, Clay Henry, even got in on the action.

Tuesday was a little more low-key with college trivia, but staff still showed their support by getting involved. Civics and U.S. History teacher, Andrea Dobson put her knowledge to the test and showed the students that even adults can have fun with a little college trivia.

Wednesday, the ambassadors set up the floor with a fun “College Twister” activity. Students were both excited and nervous about playing twister in front of their peers, but Ms. P, the GEAR UP Site Manager, got involved and showed the students of KiBe it is okay to have fun despite concerns about being judged for participating. Instead of calling out colors, students were directed by a college’s color; for example, “Left hand, Cougar Crimson.”

Thursday, students got really silly with “Pin the Nose/Tail/Teeth/Bow on the Mascot.” Large pictures of the Oregon State University Beaver, University of Oregon Duck, Washington State University Cougar, and University of Washington Husky were placed on a wall. Participants were given a selected missing part of the drawing with their name on it, blindfolded, spun around 5 times, and sent on a mission to correctly place the missing piece in the correct place. To set the example, Ms. P and Mr. Henry went first. Soon, more and more student competitors joined the battle. A few were so into the activity they tried to sneakily direct their friends in how to reach the target. Although technically cheating, GEAR UP commended them on their ability to work as a team.

Friday, ambassadors concluded the week’s activities with a “Where’s the College Mascot” activity. Two competitors had to focus their eyes, despite a psychedelic background, to find the called out logo. The college week reminded KiBe students of GEAR UP’s presence on campus, gave the ambassadors an opportunity to fully orchestrate an activity, and brought students and staff together.

KiBe GEAR UP Visits Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic

GEAR UP at Kiona-Benton High School ventured on a day long trip to Yakima, WA. The first stop was to Yakima Valley Community College. A representative from the college informed students about the college and career paths available in the healthcare field. Ki-Be students also heard from TRIO, a federally funded outreach program similar to GEAR UP. The TRIO coordinator helped explain what it takes to be successful in college and the general resources available to them at not only YVCC, but any college/university. Students were then led on a campus tour where they took a more in-depth look at the dorms, dental hygiene program, and science building.

KiBe GEAR UP students enjoyed dining amongst college students at YVCC. They recapped the tour and the pros and cons of the college. Lunch provided an opportunity for students to discuss what programs piqued their interest.

The second part of the trip was a look at the Yakima Farm Workers Clinic on Nob Hill. This part of the trip was relevant to students because they had the opportunity to visualize potential career paths. Students heard from the dental, health care, and office administration program. The students also were taken on a very detailed tour. They saw a robot fill prescriptions in the pharmacy and heard from orthodontists, nurses, and physicians regarding the highlights of the careers as well as skills necessary to be successful.

The trip ignited the possibility of a science-based career for these students. They were attentive and had many questions for our presenters.

Kiona Benton GEAR UP Ambassadors Make an Impact in their Community

GEAR UP at Kiona Benton High School realized a need to help amp up the students’ involvement in their school and community. Thus the GEAR UP Ambassadors was started as a way to allow students to get involved in school and meet other goal-oriented, like-minded students. The students have been informed that one huge piece of college applications as well as many scholarship applications is community involvement and extra-curricular activities. Realizing that they need to be more involved, on March 30, 2015, GEAR UP Ambassadors took time from their spring break to promote positive vibes in their community.

Ambassadors wanted to provide smiles to residents in an assisted living home so they created cards filled with silly, light-hearted jokes. The cards are a small gesture, but will easily brighten someone’s day. Ambassadors also decided to take time to make cards for victims of domestic violence. They wanted to provide messages that help empower victims. The messages let victims know they are strong, beautiful, and powerful.

GEAR UP Ambassadors are quickly making a name for themselves within the community and will be increasing their community service role over the next year. As GEAR UP at KiBe looks to enhance its Ambassador Program, at least two, student-organized community service activities will become the standard. GEAR UP wants to help mold well-rounded students who are more aware of issues in their community and the world and who are ready to assist in creating the solutions.

One benefit of this GEAR UP sponsored community service activity was that sophomores got a jump start on activities for their college applications. Students had the chance to express their creativity, serve others, and have fun while doing so.

Kiona Benton GEAR UP Learns About What Makes a Successful College Student

Dedicated KiBe GEAR UP students loaded onto a bus on the Friday before spring break to visit two college campuses. At Yakima Valley Community College, students learned more about the process involved in becoming a community college student as well as educational programs offered from admissions counselor Marivy Vasquez. Immediately following, the TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) adviser shared her own college journey and why she chose her career path. She then informed the students about programs like GEAR UP at the community college- SSS being one. Students who intend on transferring to a university, demonstrate an academic need and are either low-income or a first generation college student can apply for the program to help support them through the community college and onto the university. To demonstrate what it is like to be a college student and the skills necessary to be a successful college student, the adviser had an activity prepared for the students. The first task was to divide themselves into 5 groups of similar size including at least one boy and one student representative from each grade level. Once in groups, their objective was to complete tasks to gather the most points in a 5 minute time period. Students created paper ties, ran around the room showing spirit fingers, and did wall squats as a team. After determining the winner, the adviser asked what the students thought the 3 greatest things she wanted them to take away from the activity were. Teamwork, one student said; communication, another followed up with. The students offered excellent ideas, but the greatest idea she wanted to relay to them through the activity was time management. She said in order to be a successful college student you will have to make wise decisions about how best to use your time. In the activity students could choose to do a bunch of activities worth fewer points or a few more challenging activities worth greater points. Through the activity, students had to best decide how to use their time wisely. After the activity debrief, students learned a little more about what other supportive student services were offered and were able to get questions answered including whether or not YVCC has a marine biology program, if they take students who had an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in high school, and what the minimum GPA they need is. After a quick tour of campus, we loaded back onto the bus.

After lunch in Yakima, the bus headed to Central Washington University (CWU) in Ellensburg. Before starting the campus tour students were able to explore the student bookstore where current KiBe students ran into a KiBe High School alumnus who is currently a CWU student. This was very exciting as current students were able to learn about his experience in college, see how he had changed and grown, and saw in the flesh that students from Benton City do go to universities. Not having much time at CWU, the students split into two groups and took an expedited tour of the campus. After, students met the admissions counselor who would be reviewing their applications. He shared his educational journey. Coming from immigrant parents who lived in Yakima, their goal for him was that he should graduate from high school. Knowing that he could do that by achieving the bare minimum, he didn’t live up to his full potential his freshman year of high school. He soon realized he could do better and did so. Still, when he graduated, he decided to go to work immediately to help his family make money. He didn’t think his family would be able to pay for college off minimum wage. After working for a while, he realized that although he was making good money, he would not be able to sustain a good life for himself with his minimal education working in that position, so he applied to college. He shared how important the personal statement can be in that he was able to explain his questionable academic record to the admissions counselor through his own personal statement. After sharing his story, he shared admissions information and the top reasons why students choose CWU-proximity to home, affordability, and academic programs.

KiBe GEAR UP students returned to KiBe realizing they are not alone in the pursuit to attain their goals and dreams. As the dean of student services at YVCC mentioned, there are many resources available, but the students need to take advantage of opportunities and learn to advocate for themselves. They need to make it known to campus employees what they need to be successful.

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