In the News

Pre-college Advisor Janelle Martin addressed the city council Sept. 14, and spoke about the Gear Up program that assists in teaching students college basics.

The program is federally funded, she said, and the week of Sept. 21, is National Gear Up week.

"Colorado Gear Up is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education," she said. "It was signed into law by President Clinton in 1998 and is a competitive grant funded by the US Department of Higher Education."

Currently, 40 states have a Gear Up program, she said, and Colorado is one of five states with a scholarship attached to the program.

"There are 17 schools in Colorado that has a Gear Up program," she said. "The schools range from Greeley to Alamosa to Lamar."

Lamar High School has the program and Martin considers the school fortunate.

"We're giving students the knowledge to continue on with their education in order to be productive members of society," she said.

The program serves a high percentage of low income, first generation students, and they enter the program when they start the eighth grade and it continues through the 12th grade.

"Currently, we advise 275 students at Lamar High School," she said.

The job is to help kids prepare for graduation and move on into post-secondary education, including a certificate program, vocational or technical programs, community college or a four year university.

"Some of the things we do to help this along is first we do academic advising," she said. "We call students in and talk to them about their grades and how many credits they are going to need to graduate."

They also help students with resources that will help them be successful.

"The second thing we do is monthly is we go into the classrooms and teach the kids anything from study skills to getting involved in school, volunteering and career choices," she said.

Other resources available are to learn how to apply for college or anything they feel will help them in the future.

"Lamar High School has a really good working relationship with Lamar Community College," she said. "We encourage students to take college classes while they're in high school."

Getting college and high school credit concurrently can save the student money and time as they pursues a career. Currently there are 107 students taking advantage of that program taking 291 classes.

The program also offers College Level Examination Program (CLEP) testing.

"This is where we take Spanish-speaking students and they take a test and they are able to get college credit if they have good Spanish-speaking literacy skills," she said. "The students can earn anywhere between 6 and 12 college credits and that helps a lot of them to minor in Spanish when they go into college."

The group also offers college visits and they tour area colleges.

"We have all of our seniors apply to three different colleges and we help them do their FAFSA," she said. "We help them look at their award letter and help them figure out the best one (college) to go to."

Each student will receive a $3,500 scholarship when the graduate from the program's grant level three cycle paid over a two year period to their post-secondary institute.

She presented a proclamation signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper and read it to the council.

Chris Frost: 719-336-2266, editor@lamarledger.com

Source: The Lamar Ledger