HCHS students celebrate GEAR UP week

Published 10:50 am Thursday, October 5, 2017

Harlan County High School students celebrated the 2017 National GEAR UP Week recently.

GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a seven-year program funded by the United States’ Department of Education to help students become mentally and financially prepared for higher education. The program offers many tutoring opportunities and scholarships for low-income students. This has led to a significant decrease in the number of high school dropouts, as well as an increase in funding for those who need it to seek education.

“One of the things we want to do with GEAR UP,” said James Carroll, the academic specialist of the GEAR UP Club at HCHS, “is at the end of the seven years, when this grant’s gone and I’m no longer here in this position, we want something to be in this building to prove GEAR UP helped us. And those are the things we’re hoping to do.”

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National GEAR UP Week was created to bring attention to the GEAR UP Program and its positive effects on education. It also allows more people to get involved and work alongside the group to reach its goals. HCHS is allowing students to dress up in themed attire each weekday in celebration. Monday is for camouflage, Tuesday is for hats, Wednesday is for neon colors, Thursday is for dressing as a future career, and Friday is for favorite college sports teams.

“GEAR UP Week has been really fun,” said Laura Creech, an HCHS senior. “I liked getting to wear camouflage and showing our school spirit while still dressing appropriately for each day. My favorite day would have to be Neon Day, because everyone got the chance to wear really bright clothing that made us look like highlighters. And really, everyone else seems to have enjoyed this week, too.”

GEAR UP is a competitive grant program of the U.S. Department of Education that increases the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education by providing states and local community-education partnerships six- to seven-year grants to offer support services to high-poverty, middle and high schools.

The program in Harlan County this year serves students in grades 4-8 in the elementary schools and grades 9-10 at Harlan County High School, following the high school students through high school graduation and their first year in college. GEAR UP provides critical early college awareness and support activities like tutoring, mentoring, academic preparation, financial education and college scholarships to improve access to higher education for low income, minority and disadvantaged first-generation students and their families.

The program mandates cooperation among K-12 schools and institutions of higher education, local and state education entities, businesses and community-based organizations. These dynamic partnerships are required to leverage local resources to match the federal investment dollar for dollar, creating a common agenda that more effectively facilitates the educational aspirations and attainment of students from low-income communities. The program in Harlan County is made possible by government funding through Berea College.