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Kingman 8th-graders GEAR UP next week

KINGMAN - The Kingman Unified School District's 506 eighth-graders will be celebrating national GEAR UP week with local activities beginning Monday.

The week commemorates the continuing success of GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. It is a college access program providing students and families the support they need for college success. Eighth-grade students at Black Mountain School, Kingman Middle School and White Cliffs Middle School will participate in events at each school this week.

"The program is incredibly essential in this area of Arizona," said Conni Hulse, coordinator at Black Mountain School. "It helps provide an opportunity for these kids to see beyond what they have available now in a rural setting. It gives them a chance to find out what the world has to offer them so they can go on to be the best people they can be."

GEAR UP first came to KUSD in 2000, tracking seventh-grade students until they graduated from high school. It reappeared again last year with the district's seventh-graders and will progress through graduation. The district receives $273,500 annually for five years to provide a variety of services to those students, from taking them to college and career fairs, visiting college campuses, sending them to summer camp and purchasing scientific and math supplies for their teachers and classrooms.

As part of the local celebration, White Cliffs Middle School will host a parent night with Expect More Arizona at 6 p.m. Sept. 24. And

Black Mountain School will sponsor a similar parent night at 6 p.m. Sept. 25.

Eighth-grade students at both schools will write their U.S. Congress representatives to thank them for supporting GEAR UP and ask for continued funding for the program. Also, students at both schools will write letters about what they plan to become as adults and place them in a time capsule that will be opened upon their high school graduation. A GEAR UP pep rally will take place Friday at both schools.

At Kingman Middle School, eighth-grade students will write their college and career dreams on poster board displayed in the school's hallways. Also, they will write those same dreams on paper and insert them into balloons, which will be released Friday. And they will take a trip to Kingman High School on Sept. 30 to attend a pep rally and participate in peer mentoring activities.

"I think this is an amazing program for the kids," said Erin Chastain, coordinator at KMS. "It shows them they have many school and career options available and that people are there to help them make those decisions. It's really cool to see how excited they can get about their futures at this young age."

For more information about GEAR UP, call Hulse at Black Mountain School at (928) 565-9111, Chastain at KMS at (928) 753-3588 or Krista DiBlasi at White Cliffs Middle School at (928) 753-6216.


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