Lowell students participate in College Application Week each fall.

About the school

Lowell High School, Lowell, Oregon

  • 187 students in grades 7-12
  • 65% eligible for free and reduced lunch
  • 24% students of color

GEAR UP highlights

Lowell student-led college fair

Students research a college and present it to their peers during a student-led college fair.

  • Summer school and after-school tutoring. These funds enabled students to earn the credit they needed to graduate. I can think of at least 11 students who would not have graduated over the course of the last 7 years if that opportunity had not existed. The students were able to get help with homework and projects and tutoring around high stakes testing. One-on-one tutoring and mentorship made all the difference in the lives of those students. Without GEAR UP funding, this would not have been possible.

  • Visiting colleges. It opened the eyes of students to the notion that college was "a real thing" and not something to be afraid of. GEAR UP sponsored many leadership workshops for students which also helped provide experiences outside of their community into a larger setting making it possible to meet new friends and network.

  • Growth mindset. GEAR UP was instrumental in bringing "growth mindset" to students and staff which helped to change thoughts around teaching and learning for staff and having students have more perseverance and less desire to "give up" on themselves.

Lowell EWEB Career Fair

Students attended EWEB's Utility Career Fair.

  • College Application Week is highly regarded and fully participated in by the the student body and staff. In fact, Lowell was recognized as the American College Application Campaign School of Excellence for Oregon in 2019. Seniors are recognized every time they are accepted to a college or trade school.
  • Scholarship writing classes and workshops are offered during the school day and the number of parent volunteers have increased through a strong ASPIRE program.
  • Student leadership contributes to promoting a college-going culture by pushing academic progress and setting good examples for the younger students. "Student helping students" programs were also started using GEAR UP funds with the purpose of older students being mentors for younger students in the LINK CREW program.

The impact of GEAR UP

Lowell high school graduation rate

Before GEAR UP there was not a college-going culture. Students of course went to college, but there was not a common language around college readiness and no cohesive program to have students begin to think about college from the 6th grade up.

Now, many yearly activities are in place so that plans after high school and college and career discussions happen on a regular basis. All students go on college visits. Students are well-versed in what classes they need to be taking and passing to get into postsecondary educational settings. The graduation rate for students has made steady gains to the point where in 2020 the graduation rate was 96%.  Many new challenging classes were added including an increase in AP and College Now classes.

Because of GEAR UP, hope is given, eyes are opened and lives are changed!

What has helped your school be successful in implementing GEAR UP?

Lowell staff

Lowell staff wear college gear monthly.

One of the reasons why GEAR UP has been so successful is that it is fully supported by the school staff including the school board, administrators, teachers and support staff. Also, parents and community are supportive of the program. Realizing that activities and events had to become part of the school institution and culture rather than an "after thought" is why this program has been successful.

The GEAR UP event that was most helpful for our school was the yearly SUCCESS retreat which provided a combination of workshops for teachers and time for staff to work together on the yearly school improvement plan that was driven by GEAR UP data.  It can't be said enough how much that planning opportunity did to help staff work on concrete goals for school improvement.

Lowell time on GEAR UP

GEAR UP's data collection is amazing. The data and GEAR UP mentors/coordinators were instrumental in helping to guide staff to goals that were meaningful and guaranteed to be successful. Additionally, embedding GEAR UP as a monthly agenda item at staff meetings kept our staff focused on the tasks and goals we had made around student achievement and school improvement.

Information and photos provided by GEAR UP coordinator Jeanie May and former principal Kay Graham.