The Ruth Patrick Science Education Center will mark the end of its GEAR UP program with a luncheon to be held on Saturday, August 26, 2006. Over the past seven years, GEAR UP staff members have planned and implemented programs designed to help middle and high school students get and/or remain on the right path to be successful students at the post-secondary institution of their choice.

GEAR UP – an acronym for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs – is a federally funded program that has touched the lives of over 300 students in the Aiken County area since its inception here in 1999. On Saturday mornings during the school year and for four weeks during the summer, middle school students arrived on campus for stimulating instruction and hands-on activities in the fields of communications, mathematics, and science. They also participated in fun and educational field trips to learning centers, museums, business places, universities and theme parks.

Activities for high school students in the GEAR UP program included workshops covering such topics as college entrance requirements, financial aid, time management and goal setting. To help area students be more successful when taking college entrance examinations, GEAR UP periodically offered 15-hour SAT Preparation Institutes where students were coached in mathematics, english and writing and also learned a variety of test-taking skills.
For the past three years, GEAR UP has also worked alongside the local chapter of SCABSE(South Carolina Alliance of Black School

Educators). SCABSE’s stated mission is to ensure a high-quality education for all children, but particularly for African-American children since these are the students who, regardless of socioeconomics, continue to perform most poorly on tests designed to measure educational achievement. To this end, experts from a variety of fields that impact the educational environment are invited to dialogue with stakeholders at semi-annual community conferences. The next conference is scheduled to be held in September 2006.

For the 2006 – 2007 academic year, 12 students from the first GEAR UP cohort will be entering their sophomore year at various post-secondary institutions, including USC Aiken. This figure represents just over 37 percent of the students who completed the entire program. Nine students, or one-third of the program graduates from the second cohort, will be enrolled as college freshmen during the next academic year. We congratulate these students on accomplishing one of the major goals of the GEAR UP program.

The goals of the program were incorporated into a pledge written by one of the GEAR UP students from the class of 2005, Erica McCord.

It states:

I pledge to GEAR UP and drive right to a better start in life because
Greater Education starts with learning
Early awareness will help me to prepare
An enriched understanding is what I need
Readiness I must achieve
Upward bound I will flow
Preparing for success as I grow.

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