Middle school students ‘gearing-up’ for college | News

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A group of Del Rio incoming eight graders has been touring the Sul Ross State University Alpine campus under the Gaining Early Access and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR-UP), a Department of Education initiative administered through Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas.

Two groups have scheduled visits to Alpine and surrounding area this summer. The first group visited Alpine from July 7-12 and visited campus’ locations including university centers, dorms, cafeteria, pools, etc.

The goal of the program is to create community and educational partnerships that will help students, especially low-income students, understand the importance and make strong and lasting investments in their educational future, according to a program’s statement.

The program offers various resources for the students and parents, and it will follow the students until they graduate from high school. It ensures students stay in school, raise their academic and career aspirations and receive quality academic counseling as they prepare for higher education.

The program is in its second cycle, after working with the Class of 2017 graduates. It currently serves eight school districts with San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District being one of them and students that are incoming eighth grade students.

Students are automatically in the program if they are incoming eighth graders. The students can participate in summer and weekend curriculum-based day camps at Alpine, Texas.

“The students are able to visit different colleges to see what college fits them better,” GEAR-UP Assistant Director Martha Hernandez said.

Some of the college tours take place during the summer camps and consist of visiting colleges in the surrounding area such as the University of Texas, the University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas State, Angelo State University and Texas A&M.

Students interested in participating in summer camps or days trips have to have permission slips signed.

Hernandez said parents also benefit from the program by gaining college information through meetings. Parents can receive trainings and be better prepared for their child’s success after high school.

“GEAR-UP offers tutoring and mentoring to ensure that students are better prepared,” Hernandez said. Once in high school, the students will receive waivers for ACT, SAT and TSI testing.

Hernandez added an individual education plan and student information forms must be filled out once a year. “Students benefit from the program because by asking questions they will discover what path will work best for them,” Hernandez said.

“We, as a community, have a grand responsibility to our students. While they may represent only 20 percent of our population; our students are 100 percent of America’s future,” the program stated in a release.

The program is free for students and parents. Hernandez said any questions can be directed to their office at (830) 778 4541.

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