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Banks School, Pike County High School and Goshen High School will kick off the GEAR UP program next week with activities and events to get the students excited.

“We are excited about it being kick-off week,” said Vicki Hagler, GEAR UP site facilitator for Banks School and PCHS. “The students seem excited about it already.”

GEAR UP, “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs,” is a program that focuses on helping students pursue an education past high school through college and career training programs. Students involved in the program have the opportunity to participate in the program until they graduate high school or until their first year of college or post-secondary education.

“The GEAR UP program has been recognized nationally as one of the most promising pathways to increasing the number of students who are prepared to enter and achieve success in their education and training beyond high school,” said Gov. Robert Bentley. “This grant will help build a solid foundation for our children and will set them up to succeed by being better prepared for post-secondary education and to join the workforce.”

The GEAR UP Alabama program is coordinated by the University of Alabama in Birmingham and funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Over the next seven years, 50 Alabama schools will participate in the effort.

“The biggest thing is that all of these students automatically have a two-year paid scholarship just for going through this program,” Hagler said. “They will be able to go to a state college for a two-year program to earn an associate degree, then transfer to a four-year school to continue if they wanted to.”

While in the program, students will be able to experience free college tours, academic workshops, tutoring, leadership development classes, career development activities, mentoring, financial aid workshops and college preparation summer academies.

“We will have at least one GEAR UP activity a month until the end of the year,” Hagler said. “Those activities will vary from school to school, depending on what those students need to focus on.”

During the kick off week, Hagler said that Banks and PCHS will have dress up days for students to represent the college they want to attend, door decoration contests and activities to discuss goals for the program.

Miss Alabama Meg McGuffin will be speaking at GHS Wednesday to encourage the students and share about her experiences in college. GHS will also have a “Pimp My Ride” parade, where the students will decorate their cars to show spirit for their college of choice.

“Alabama’s educators work hard each day to prepare students for lifelong success,” said State Superintendent Tommy Bice. “The focus is to ensure that our students are both college-and-career-ready and fully engaged in the learning process. GEAR UP provides us with another outstanding resource to help achieve these goals. We are proud to be a part of this new statewide partnership to further student academic achievement.”

The “Welcome to GEAR UP” kick off program will begin Monday and will end Friday.

Students, parents and family members are encouraged to participate in each activity made available to them and learn more about GEAR UP and college planning.

Source: Troy Messenger