GearUp computers

Brianna Elzey and Toby Storey hook up equipment at the Reedsport Community Charter School Gear Up lab.

REEDSPORT — In a major victory for charter school teens, they now have a fully equipped computer lab they use for looking at colleges.

Reedsport Community Charter School Office Manager Sheri Wall looked around the lab, smiling.

"This is going to be nice," she said.

She, fellow staff member Michelle Williams and Principal Vince Swagerty worked closely to bring the project to fruition, using left over Gear Up dollars for the lab. They applied for the $12,794.

This is no small thing for the charter school, as Wall pointed out.

"The significance is that our students will have more opportunities to do further career exploration to enable them to choose careers that fit them," Wall said. 

"By using CIS Career Information Systems they can research jobs that they may be interested in, take tests to see of those jobs are good fits for them and hopefully spark an interest in furthering their educations. We did not have a lab that could be used for this and advisory teachers were having a hard time exposing students to what they need to make further educational decisions."

While setting up some equipment for the day, youth took a few moments to share their perspectives.

"I really want to go to a culinary school," said senior Brianna Elzey. "It really depends on whether I can get into here (Southwestern) or Colorado."

Elzey's home town is Denver and her dad, Marvin, works as a cook. She wanted to follow in his footsteps. Speaking fondly of him, she said "he's been cooking since he was 16 years old and he's now 49 years old."

"It's been a good learning process because I never (used) a Windows 10 before," the senior added.

Likewise, junior Damon Peck discussed his plans for the future.

Like some of his peers across the nation, he's not quite sure whether he'll attend a community college or a university.

"I'm kind of keeping my options open right now," Peck said. "Probably a community college so I can be a little bit closer to home."

The upperclassman is still deciding on a college major, adding that he's leaning toward "something dealing with electricity" or working as a lineman.

He took a break from hooking up the equipment with a fellow student.

"They're definitely awesome computers," Peck said. '"Yeah up to date, self reliant."

Like Elzey, he hadn't worked with Windows 10 before.

Taylor Rasmussen works in the Reedsport School District with technology and spent time Monday with students, assisting them with any questions they might have.

"We got them at a bargain," he said of the computers. "I mean personally I love them."

Grant applicants outlined their request in their proposal, saying they'd like to "utilize Gear Up funding to enhance our ability to provide career related learning and increase the rigor of our math, language arts, science and social studies programs by adding an additional computer laboratory comprised of 30 desktop computers."

The grant authors said the extra lab would "give us the opportunity to utilize the Career Information System (CIS) on a regular basis."

"As we planned for our advisory this year, we discovered that we simply didn't have enough lab time available to have our students have adequate access to CIS at the high school level."

"This lab would also enable allow students to research colleges, complete college application requirements, apply for scholarships and work on their FAFSA, as well as having a space available to have college recruiters visit and make presentations to our students."

As outlined further in the school's grant proposal, the computers will provide more of a boost in other academic areas.

"As a school with a high level of poverty, our students do not necessarily have home computers with internet access in their homes. Therefore access to these portals must come during the school day or during our after school tutoring as well as our Friday tutoring sessions," the grant authors wrote.

"A review of our state testing data shows that our students had difficulty in the area of research," according to the application. "This lab would give our students an opportunity to spend more time learning how to research effectively, thereby increasing the rigor of all our programs, especially in language arts and social studies."

Plus the lab is intended to give detailed progress in math and reading.

"We use formative assessments that are computer based and we are very limited in the number of times we can track progress each year," the authors wrote. "This lab will help us more clearly identify student academic needs, which will give us the ability to adjust our planning and provide interventions where necessary."

The Umpqua Post Editor Shelby Case can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 296 or shelby.case@theworldlink.com.

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Umpqua Post Editor