MOSES LAKE — Big Bend Community College’s TRiO Upward Bound program celebrated the end of its annual six-week Summer Academy with a drive-through parade on campus Friday evening, honoring the forty-six students from Moses Lake, Othello, Royal City, and Warden high schools who successfully completed the program.
Students and their families made their way in their cars through different checkpoints, where they had a chance to wave to their instructors and mentors. At the end of the parade route, students got to pick up their certificates and awards and take a photo with their personal mentor.
For almost all of the participants, Friday’s celebration was the first time they got to see their mentors and instructors in person.
This was TRiO’s 53rd Summer Academy, but the first ever to be held virtually. Traditionally Summer Academy students are able to stay in the Big Bend dorms and take classes, socialize and eat meals on campus.
“We really had no idea how we could possibly convert a residential experience into a digital one,” said Big Bend TRiO Upward Bound Director Anita De Leon. “It was a complete team effort to make this happen. Aside from the four full-time TRiO staff, we had nine outreach mentors and five TRiO teachers who provided instruction, tutoring, and support to the students.”
TRiO Upward Bound hosts the Summer Academy each year to give students an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming school year, while also helping them learn important life and social skills.
Many of the classes offered each summer are worth a semester high school credit. This summer, students were able to take English, College Prep English, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, Advanced College & Career Planning, Spanish for Native Speakers, SAT Prep, and Personal Finance.
This year, the program also worked with American High School, an accredited online high school, to provide additional classes such as Algebra, Geometry, US History, AP Calculus and Anatomy & Physiology.
Each student also participated in a six-week Career Planning and Virtual Job Shadow project.
Aside from classes, students were able to engage with each other during several virtual group activities such as motivational speaker events, coffee hours, a talent show and friendly competitions involving cooking, photography and athletics.
“All in all, students formed bonds and created lasting memories, even through these unprecedented times,” said De Leon.
De Leon added that this year especially, Summer Academy mentors played a big role in keeping students excited and involved with each other and the program.
“The outreach mentors were directly responsible for daily contact with their assigned group of approximately four to six students,” said De Leon. “They built meaningful relationships, offered social and educational activities, and found special ways to keep students accountable and engaged.”
Summer Academy graduates were formally recognized during a virtual awards ceremony Thursday night. Eighteen students earned academic excellence medallions given to students who finish their classes with a 4.0 GPA.
Many others made it on the honor roll list, which is given to students who finish with a 3.3 GPA and above. Instructors also presented their Teacher’s Top Choice awards, and handed out Leadership and All-Star student awards during the ceremony.
The Upward Bound program at Big Bend has been on campus since 1967, and is one of the oldest Upward Bound programs in the nation. TRiO advisors help students who are from low-income backgrounds and who are often first-generation college students, with anything and everything college related- including tutoring, assistance with college and financial aid applications and SAT/ACT preparation.
In addition, students participate in a variety of cultural and social events while in the program. TRiO Upward Bound is currently serving 120 students this academic year.