Ten student ambassadors joined a whirlwind 2013 summer tour learning about GEAR UP, traveling, and meeting Senator Patty Murray.
The desire to build peer-to-peer connections to increase student academic success has been percolating for a while at the WSU Tri-Cities GEAR UP Program. In early spring 2013, a selection process was developed for a student ambassador program and this initiative has taken off. Ten student ambassadors were chosen from WSU GEAR UP partner school districts across southeast Washington to attend the NCCEP national conference July 14-17 in San Francisco. The student ambassadors participated at the Youth Congress portion of the conference, learning leadership strategies for communication and relationship skill-building while strengthening their confidence to effectively tell their story. The ambassadors also toured Stanford University, University of California - Berkley, and California State University - San Jose.
Next up, the student ambassadors traveled to Seattle to participate at the NCCEP Champions for Student Success award ceremony on August 6. Senator Patty Murray received the prestigious award as a supporter of education programs (including GEAR UP) throughout her political career. With a nudge from WSU Tri-Cities Early Outreach Director Geno Morales, the ambassadors approached Senator Murray and presented her with a poster and special note of appreciation.
To close out their summer travel, the student ambassadors attended the WSU GEAR UP site/staff training on August 12 in Richland. The ambassadors shared goals and insights gained from the conference. The student ambassadors who attended the Youth Congress include:
- Jared Bessett, Soap Lake High School
- Mindee Chase, Connell High School
- Jacqueline Luna, Connell High School
- Kaylyn Morgan, Columbia High School
- Veronica Ocampo, Walla Walla High School
- Vanessa Rojas, Pasco High School
- Cristian Saenz, Pasco High School
- Justus Scott, Pasco High School
- Brenda Vela, Chiawana High School
- Fabian Villarreal, Moses Lake High School
At Clarkston High School and Lincoln Middle School, school was out for the summer on June 7th, but for some it started up again on June 10th. These students were those who had failed either their math or English class, or both. There were about 25 OVP II students (juniors) and 25 OVP III students (8th grade) that had to remain in school until July 3rd. The middle school held summer school combined for the students who had failed one of these core classes and the high school held three sessions of math (2 algebra and 1 geometry) along with three English sessions. High school students attended from 8-11 or 11:30-2:30. Overall only 3 of the 50 students did not pass their summer school course which means that these students will now be enrolled in a credit recovery course that often times they complete in the GEAR UP room during the regular school year. Tutors Tristan Anderson, Cherie Wormell, and Brian Fox all tutored for OVP II and OVP III students during the three week summer school session.
June 23rd-25th, 16 Clarkston students (10 incoming freshman, OVP III, and 6 incoming seniors, OVP II) joined Lead Tutor Jane Ann Brewer and tutor Kate Anderson on a trip to Washington State University to the Washington 4-H Teen Conference for a fun filled few days. We were also accompanied by 6 AVID students (incoming sophomores) and AVID/GEAR UP tutor Tristan Anderson. This conference is a tradition for Clarkston GEAR UP and such a wonderful experience for the students to attend. The 4-H ambassadors do a wonderful job at making the event jam packed with events so that the students are never without something to do.
Upon arrival students have the opportunity to tour campus, visit the recreation center, or get adjusted into their rooms. A BBQ dinner and team building activities comes later in the evening, and then it’s time to hit the dorms to get some much needed rest. On Monday students attended workshops that they had previously signed up for with a sack lunch in between. Workshops range from forensics to learning how to make things from cheese and go from 8:45-5:15. Monday evening is a wonderful banquet with a guest speaker and restaurant style dining followed by activities. By Tuesday most of the kids are worn out and ready for a relaxing morning. After breakfast is a career/college fair that kids can roam around at their leisure. Then is the big goodbye at an assembly which featured a speaker that the kids had heard on Sunday evening, Mike Donahue, executive director and founder of 5R Productions – a favorite among the crowd. On the bus ride home it is obvious that everyone is anxious to sleep in their own beds, but the buzz of the last few days is definitely one of excitement with many freshman saying, “I can’t wait to go back next year!”
Meet Lupe Rivera. Like many 7th grade students, Lupe struggled with her multiplication tables. This year Mr. Harris put the 7th graders to the test by offering incentives for students who could complete the 100 question multiplication test in under 2 minutes with a 100%. Lupe was determined to beat that and raise the bar to the next level. Throughout the school year Lupe would come into GEAR UP lunch tutoring and practice taking multiplication quizzes. She got better and was finally able to complete the quiz with a 100%, now she just needed to do it under the 2 minute mark. She did. Next, she began to challenge the other students during lunch tutoring. It didn’t matter what grade they were in as long as they would accept her challenge. Lupe was so good that the other students would not “race” her anymore, so she began going up against GEAR UP tutors. Once she was able to beat the tutors, she challenged some of the math teachers and even the principal. It became a daily activity in lunch tutoring of who would be the fastest and most accurate at completing the multiplication quiz.
Finally the day came for her to complete the test in class for credit. Mr. Harris was amazed at how quickly she completed the test and with a 100%. He gave her rave reviews in front of the entire class for all her diligence and effort. Lupe was so excited she ran into GEAR UP after school and presented us with her test. Of course we hung it up in the GEAR UP room as we are very proud of Lupe and all her hard work and commitment. Lupe constantly thanked GEAR UP staff for the support and positive encouragement we gave her throughout the year. Lupe looks forward to Algebra next year and feels confident and determined to excel not only in math, but in all her classes.
GEAR UP tutors Emily Blizard and Jolene Calzadillas had the privilege of helping in Mrs. Kalinga’s 8th grade science class this year. Mrs. Kalinga incorporates hands on labs with every section she teaches. When the students were learning about speed and force they used their knowledge to race cars with the most aerodynamic “sail” down small homemade ramps. Students also learned about electrical waves using mini circuit boards, batteries, light bulbs and switches. They had multiple labs on the properties of light waves where they used flashlights, magnifying lenses and colored lenses. These labs are both fun and educational and incorporate different learning styles so all students have the opportunity to learn the way that fits them best. GEAR UP tutors assist with these labs by explaining difficult concepts and helping the students set up their equipment which helps the labs run smoothly and gives the students the best opportunity to learn.
After many lectures and labs, GEAR UP provided an educational field trip for all the 8th graders to visit the Hanford B Reactor. Students had the opportunity to see the reactor, tour the facilities and listen to scientists and ask questions. Students were amazed by the reactor and really enjoyed the trip. Ms. Blizard and Mrs. Calzadillas were not only tutors but also mentors to these students. The students really enjoyed having them in the classroom this year as well as helping them in the tutoring center.
Prescott GEAR UP sent 8 HOH II students to Washington Business and Healthcare Week at Gonzaga University. The students attended the program July 7-13th. They were divided; 5 participating in healthcare and 3 in business and 5 of them had attended the previous year. They really want to return one more year because of what they learned the first year. They felt like the strategies they learned were preparing them for their choice of a career path.
During the week they developed a better understanding of a career that they might enter after finishing their college education. The GEAR UP students worked as a member of a team in their career choice and listened to speakers on how to succeed in a career. They investigated information about their group’s project, planned solutions to that problem and made presentations. They were able to meet and visit with people in business and healthcare that work in these industries. All felt that it was a great opportunity and really appreciated that Prescott GEAR UP gave them this chance to understand what it takes to succeed in a career.