Knox celebrates GEAR UP awareness

Two Knox County schools are promoting college and career readiness this month as part of National GEAR UP Awareness Month (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs). Through a partnership with Berea College, Lynn Camp School and Knox Central High School receive funding through the U.S. Department of Education to prepare students financially, academically and socially for post-secondary education.

Lynn Camp has several activities and events planned for the month of September in recognition of GEAR UP. The school is promoting attendance the entire month of September, with prizes and giveaways offered to those with perfect attendance.

“We have had a tremendous response from our community, wanting to be a part of helping kids do well in school and prepare for college,” said Kayla King, GEAR UP academic specialist at Lynn Camp School.

King said organizations such as Finley’s Fun Center and Mr. Gatti’s have donated services and gift cards for students with perfect attendance.

In addition, the school is hosting after-school study sessions for the ACT EXPLORE test, which helps 8th-grade students determine their level of academic college readiness. More than half of the current 8th graders at Lynn Camp voluntarily stay after school to help prepare for the test.

“That level of commitment is amazing,” said King. “I’m so proud of these students and grateful for Robin Burr, who is leading the study sessions.”

At Knox Central High School, a new class, dedicated to helping students improve their ACT PLAN math scores is in full swing as part of GEAR UP Awareness Month. The ACT PLAN test has the same purpose as EXPLORE; however, it focuses on 10th-grade students and the skills they need to be prepared for college.

“Since school began, we have worked intentionally and solely on preparing students for the ACT PLAN test,” said Tonya Allen, GEAR UP academic specialist at Knox Central. “The students are doing very well, and I expect them to see huge gains in their math and English scores. And it’s not just about scores; the students are understanding math so much better, and we’ve been able to fill in some missing gaps in knowledge, which results in great dividends in their math classes. A solid math and English base will help students now, in college, and in their future careers.”

Knox Central also is promoting attendance during September with school-wide class wars. The advisory classes of the grade with the greatest overall attendance percentage will be entered into a drawing for prizes. Students in the winning advisory will be rewarded with a special celebration and prizes.

Both Knox Central and Lynn Camp have extensive mentoring programs that kick off in September. At Lynn Camp, 100 percent of 8th-, 9th-, and 10th-grade students are mentored by upperclassmen at least twice per month. At Knox Central, 100 percent of 9th– and 10th-grade students are mentored by upperclassmen. Mentoring sessions focus on GEAR UP college and career readiness and 21st Century skills for success.

Berea College’s GEAR UP grant is from the U.S. Department of Education (2011-2018) totaling $149,408,000 (50 percent federal funds and 50 percent non-federal funds).