Photo by Wendy Howell.
WILLIAMS, Ariz. —Several students at Williams High School are getting a leg up in their college preparatory efforts by participating in the Northern Arizona University (NAU) Upward Bound program.
Upward Bound is a free year-round program that provides educational services and college preparatory assistance to high school students who meet eligibility requirements. Students begin the program their freshman year.
“I wish Upward Bound was available for everyone,” said Williams High School counselor Jim Powers. “They support the students all the way through their high school career with the intent on going to college or going to some sort of higher education institute after high school. The students get a lot of support.”
Upward Bound is funded by the U.S. Department of Education for northern Arizona high school students who attend either Flagstaff, Coconino, Williams or Winslow High Schools.
The program is designed to increase the retention and graduation rates of high school students who are low-income and/or first-generation college students (parents have not earned a four-year college degree).
“The college prep experience is foreign to most of them,” said Upward Bound Instructional Specialist Jacob Lesandrini.
According to their website, Upward Board provides educational services to ensure participants develop academic, emotional, social, motivational, cultural, leadership, and life-long learning skills necessary to graduate from high school, enroll in college, and earn an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree.
“I would recommend that for anyone,” Power said. “Every student that was involved in Upward Bound last year is in college now.”
Students who are interested in the program enroll in the fall of their freshman year of high school. Students complete an application, provide a copy of their parent’s federal income taxes and collect three teacher evaluations. The parents and students must also complete a short essay.
Once a student is accepted into the program, they complete six portfolios each year and attend a four-week residential academy on the NAU campus each summer.
The portfolio units assist students with post-secondary education and subsequent career pursuits. The students complete about one unit each month.
“During the year we travel out to the schools and meet with the kids one-on-one,” Lesandrini said. “We talk to them about how things are going, how soccer is going, etc. Then we go over their grades and check their units with them.”
Students participate in the portfolio program after completing their first year of the academy. With the successful completion of each unit, they are eligible for a stipend.
Sophomore and junior portfolio students in good academic standing are eligible for a college visitation trip. Senior portfolio students in good academic standing are invited to attend a college visitation trip. All portfolio students in good academic standing are also eligible for cultural and leadership activities planned by Upward Bound.
“Students go to NAU in the summer for a four-week program,” Lesandrini said. “They stay in the dorm and eat at the student cafeteria. They attend a couple of classes and work out at the rec center. We try to simulate the college experience for them.”
Students who successfully complete the program will earn one credit of a high school elective. Third year students enroll at Coconino Community College and receive college credit.
Academic year seniors do not attend the academy but are encouraged to attend a summer bridge program at the institution to which they have been accepted.
Williams High School Upward Bound representative Laci Karlsberger encourages all eligible freshmen to participate in the program.
“The biggest obstacle to acceptance in the program is incomplete applications,” she said.
Fall 2017 freshmen and their parents can find out more information at https://nau.edu/upward-bound/ or contacting Karlsberger at Williams High School at (928)635-4474.
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