The Umpqua Post: Grant Helps Class of '17 GEAR UP For College header image

The Umpqua Post

Last year, Reedsport Community Charter School was awarded a six-year GEAR UP grant of $40,000 per year, designated specifically to follow the class of 2017 through to graduation.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for our students,” said local GEAR UP coordinator Lisa Smart. “The grant targets this year’s eighth graders, but the activities we sponsor for them will spread out and benefit the entire school.”

These activities include a daily GEAR UP class in the middle school that teaches students about educational opportunities after high school, equips them with essential skills for success in high school and beyond, and helps them explore career options. But the GEAR UP class is only the starting point in expanding the students’ perspectives.

On March 21, GEAR UP funds sponsored a concert and workshop at RCCS by The Hall Pass Tour, a team from New York City that delivered a high-energy music concert designed to get underserved youth excited about leveraging higher learning to pursue their dreams. The group also provided workshops that helped students identify their dreams and discover resources to make them tangible.

Just two days after the SOU field trip, RCCS middle school teachers Charissa Hixenbaugh and Diana Gunn used GEAR UP funds to take a group of more than 30 middle school and high school students on a campus visit to the University of Oregon. After a campus visit and lunch in the dining hall, the students traveled to Portland State University to take part in the 28th annual Oregon Writing Festival on May 4.

“I loved the U of O campus,” said Gabby Analco, an RCCS eighth grader. “I also really liked OSU where we went last year.”

Analco noted that she enjoyed visiting Portland and interacting with students from all around Oregon during the writing festival as well.

“We each read the story or poem we had brought from home and then everyone gave constructive criticism,” she said.

GEAR UP coordinator Smart organized a career fair on the RCCS campus for seventh- and eighth-grade students.

On May 9, a group of professionals interacted with small groups of RCCS students about careers in airport management, veterinary medicine, professional writing, engineering, medical occupations and forestry.

I’m so excited about the worlds of opportunity this grant opens up for our students,” said Smart. “And, this is just the beginning. The grant pays for daily afterschool tutoring and tutoring on Fridays for all students. I have more than $3,000 budgeted for eight summer camps that our students can attend, all paid for with GEAR UP funds. We will also have an engineering camp sponsored by Oregon State University here on our campus during June that will be completely free for our students. It’s just a fantastic opportunity for Reedsport students to be exposed to the unlimited possibilities that higher education has to offer them.

Copyright 2013, The Umpqua Post

See "SCHOOL MATTERS: Our kids GEAR UP for summer" for more details from The Umpqua Post about Reedsport GEAR UP's summer plans!