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Before North Douglas High School's annual Open House, the school offered a pizza dinner and raffle, and invited not just the high school students and their parents, but also recent graduates, other alumni, and community members.
The dinner included a presentation about the GEAR UP program's activities for the year and solicited contact information, as well as whether parents and community members would be interested in mentoring, sharing their career or educational experiences, or other volunteer opportunities.
GEAR UP coordinator Janon Rogers also encouraged networking and participation through a simple activity using blue and yellow sticky notes on each table. Each person wrote things that they felt they were expert or experienced in – things that they could give advice to other people about - on the blue sticky notes. This could be any topic - from specific colleges that people attended to skills honed in career or hobbies. People also wrote things that they wanted mentoring in on the yellow sticky notes. Then, people were encouraged to spend time walking around and comparing sticky notes, looking for people who could mentor in the things that they needed help with, and for people who needed mentoring in their areas of expertise.
"We have in our very small school and community a really wide range of experiences and resources," said Rogers. "And we could create a support network locally that was much deeper and wide-ranging than many might assume."
Over 60 people attended including parents, students, staff, and community members (almost all of which were alumni as well). The event will be replicated before the middle school Open House, too.