College students are taught to think out of the box. So when four Pahrump Valley High School students returned from a Gear Up Youth Leadership Summit at the University of Nevada Reno in July, it wasn’t surprising that they brought back with them enthusiasm and new ideas.
“We wanted to help people and just make our school a better place,” Megan Cotton, a student who went to the summit said.
The four students, Cotton, Aryanna Bell, Ana Valero and Halie Souza decided to take on hunger at the school by launching a nonperishable food drive at the upcoming football game this Friday.
Trojans fans that bring a nonperishable food item to the football game will receive a $1 off admission to the Trojans vs. Mojave football game on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.
Gear Up, (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), is a federally-funded grant that is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. The Gear Up program gets students to think about going to post-secondary education as young as middle school. It gives them resources on funding and what to expect in college by funding field trips to colleges.
The summit exposed the students to how college students are expected to think.
To be selected for the conference students had to write an essay.
“They picked 50 students from the whole state of Nevada to go,” Bells said.
Currently at Pahrump Valley High School there are 620 students in the Gear Up program and only four were chosen.
At the conference, the group stayed for three days and did exercises that taught them to be better leaders.
“We did a ropes course,” Cotton said. “We were suspended 75 feet off the ground and had to trust the people holding the ropes.”
“We spent time learning about trusting people and communication,” Bell added.
The conference focused on group dynamics, teaching students about character, trust and communication skills. It focused on being leaders, working with others and building relationships.
“We did a lot of group activities and bonded with other students from all over the state,” Souza said. “We did other activities that taught us about feelings.”
According to Bell, the idea for the food drive came to the four when they had to do a group project, a power point presentation.
“From the power point presentation, we were inspired to help our community at home,” Cotton said.
Lisa Hamrick, student-parent involvement facilitator for Pahrump Valley High School and Karen Holley, coordinator of federal and state programs for the school district, worked closely on this project with the students and kept them focused.
The students learned that the school pantry run by Jennifer Schockley could use a boost of food.
“The four students learned that a lot of students didn’t have enough food to eat at home,” Souza said.
“Hunger just seemed to be a common problem all over Nevada,” Bell added.
Contact sports editor Vern Hee at firstname.lastname@example.org