Mar 7, 2023
Goodwell, Okla. — It’s an inside look at life as a college student at Oklahoma Panhandle State University and for most students in the Upward Bound Program it turns into a summer for the books packed full of great opportunities. Each June, high school students in the Upward Bound Program from Guymon, Okla., Hooker, Okla., and Texhoma, Okla. come to Goodwell for a five-week camp complete with classes, community service, and much more!
This summer, over 50 students and eight counselors gathered for the five-week summer camp that kicked-off with a reception for parents and students alike in honor of all the 2018 high school graduates.
The camp theme was “Rooted in family values and shaped by the branches of our future.” The students were encouraged to research the history of one’s family and reflect on how your family helps you, but does not define you.
On campus, the students take a variety of classes and live in the dorms while dining in the cafeteria. Classes range from the common core requirements of English, writing, math, science, and foreign language to electives such as dance, crafts, guitar, and physical education. This year featured a couple of new courses and highlights among the courses in Sign Language and Career Exploration. Other highlights came in the form of a visit from a leading youth engagement organization called CoolSpeak and classes on the History of Mexico and tracing family roots taught by Brad Taylor.
Aside from classroom time, the students spent time working on activities and projects with their “family groups” led by the counselors. Each of the family groups were named after trees in conjunction with the theme.
A new project the Upward Bound students helped with this year was the McKee Library Summer Reading program for youth from grades K-6. The theme of the program was “Stories from Other Lands” and emphasized stories and legends from countries of Hispanic heritage.
The students also got to assist with community service work at Thompson Park in Guymon painting playground equipment. In addition, they painted the shelter at Prairiedog Park in conjunction with Pete Headrick and Sergio Alvidrez.
An awards banquet was held on June 27 and a trip to Colorado and Utah wrapped the experience up. The students explored Mesa Verde and the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado followed by a stop at Arches National Park in Utah.
Teri Mora, Director of Upward Bound, said, “I always look forward to having our students on campus and working with them during the summer. This year’s theme gave us all an opportunity to delve into our family histories and ask questions that we may not have known about. One student was surprised to learn that part of her heritage included ancestors from Spain and not just Mexico. It was also fun that our college and cultural tour was done as a “mystery tour” and students only learned about the destinations at the beginning of each day of the trip.”
Special thanks to the college students who served as camp counselors including: Panhandle students Diego Arenas-Purvinis from Dickinson, Texas; Sergio Sosa from Amarillo, Texas; Joel Barbosa from Uvalde, Texas; Ely Esquivel from Guymon, Okla.; Autumn Wigley from Stratford, Okla. and former Upward Bound students Juan Estrada from Optima, Okla.; Viridiana Avalos from Guymon, Okla.; and Brizzette Salazar from Texhoma, Okla.
This was the fourth summer that Arenas-Purvinis worked with the Upward Bound program and says, “Upward Bound has absolutely changed my life! When I first worked in the summer of 2015, I thought it would be like any other summer job. Little did I know it would turn into much, much more! Upward Bound has shown me my true passion for teaching and working with these students. This program changes lives and I’m so thankful that I got to be a part of that!”
Upward Bound is a federal program of the Department of Education that operates year-round. The program is designed to provide students with the skills and resources to be successful throughout their high school careers and prepare them to attend and graduate from college. Participants range from those who have completed eighth grade to students that just graduated from high school.
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