In June 21 issue, Russell County News
By Kim Graham
Anyone who happened to arrive at the auditorium at Lindsey Wilson College (LWC) the afternoon of June 17th, may have gotten the impression they were at a reenactment of the Kentucky Derby. However, the folks on stage had some strange binoculars and were prone to act on whatever suggestion came from the emcee, Jim Wand.
Wand, a hypnotist, was just getting started with the derby stunt when he told his hypnotized crew their shoes were binoculars.
Laughter filled the auditorium like waves from a tsunami and washed over the crowd visiting for Parents’ Day with LWC’s Upward Bound program.
“That was hilarious!” said Bonnie He, Russell County High School (RCHS) sophomore and Upward Bound participant.
Everyone in attendance, with the possible exception of those hypnotized, got more than their daily dose of delight from the hypnotist’s performance.
“I was thrilled to death with the parent involvement at parents’ day,” said Cundiff. “Everything is going great this year.”
Parents Day, a first for LWC’s Upward Bound, was filled with many activities including a rock climbing wall, a relay race and a talent show.
Upward Bound participants had fun sharing the experience with their parents but they got right back to work when the party was over.
“The whole focus of the program is to get students to realize they can go to college,” said RCHS Guidance Counselor and Upward Bound’s in school contact Stacey Coe.
In its fifth year at Lindsey Wilson College, Upward Bound, hosts 50 students.
Teenagers from Russell, Adair, Clinton, Cumberland, Green, Marion, and Taylor County High Schools attend the six week summer program each year.
“It’s really fun! I love it!” said RCHS Junior Amelia Withers. “They give us enough work to challenge us and still be comfortable with what we’re doing.”
Students enter the program as freshmen or sophomores and continue throughout their high school career.
Younger students are recruited so they will be well equipped to make good choices about secondary school and their future careers.
“It’s good for them and they have fun,” said Miao Ming He of Russell Springs. Two of her daughters, Nellie and Bonnie are Upward Bound participants.
Soon Nellie, the first in her family to attend college, will head to the University of Kentucky as a pre-med student.
Often, students learn about Upward Bound by word of mouth from friends or family who already participate.
“We don’t have to advertise,” said Coe. “There’s usually a waiting list to get into the program.”
A new Upward Bound program offered through Somerset Community College with give students in Russell and Adair counties another choice when considering participation.
Mandatory classes in the program include English, math, science, and a foreign language. Many classes give students college credit prior to entering college.
“We try to offer basic education classes that will transfer to other schools,” Cundiff said.
They also offer art and music classes as well as physical fitness courses like aerobics and Karate to contribute to a well rounded background for students.
“The classes are cool. We take different classes every day,” said RCHS Sophomore Chris Thomas. “They give us real work and homework to try to help prepare us for college.”
RCHS graduate and Upward Bound alumnus Brittany Burton, earned 12 college credits attending Upward Bound.
Now she is a sophomore at LWC not only does she have big dreams but she also has goals set and a plan to get there.
Burton’s undergraduate major is in education with a concentration in middle school social studies. She plans to get her masters in Special Education.
“It’s the best program you’ll ever go through,” said Burton. “It’s been very beneficial for me.”
Burton is the first in her family to go to college and credits Upward Bound for encouraging her to continue school.
“The reason I’m going to college is because of Upward Bound,” said Burton. “I wasn’t going to go to college before attending the program.”
She is one of several participants who have set out to make their dreams a reality.
“This program makes a big impact on students,” said Coe. “They find out that college is a goal they can reach. Many Upward Bound participants have gone on to college and been very successful,” Coe said.
Students also get a chance to check out other colleges and universities.
During the regular school year, Upward Bound participants visit a college campus so they can get a feel for other schools in the state.
This summer, participants will visit the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.
However, many have chosen to stay close to home and go to the school they have grown to love through summers in Upward Bound.
“I’d say at least 50%, maybe higher, of our Upward Bound students go on to attend LWC,” said Cundiff. “They’re so familiar with campus, it’s not really like being a freshman.”
Cundiff says about 90% of the Upward Bound participants who attend LWC offer to volunteer with the program.
“Once they’ve worked once, they want to come back every year,” said Cundiff. “That tells you they believe in the program.”
Brittany Burton is in her second year of volunteering with Upward Bound in a role similar to that of camp counselor.
“I’m actually losing money to be here this summer but it’s worth it because I love it,” Burton said.
As a volunteer, Burton is able to encourage and mentor participants from personal experience.
“I believe totally in what the program does for students,” Cundiff said. “It’s amazing to see the changes in students and the way they interact and communicate with people.”
In the fall, Jesse Hollis, RCHS 2008 graduate and Upward Bound participant, will go to Western Kentucky University on a full ride with an $80,000 Army Scholarship. He plans to study finance or mathematics.
“The Army is the only military service that has a Veterinarian program,” said Hollis. “I’d like to do that but I’m better in math than science so I’ll probably go in to Computer Intelligence.”
Hollis’ mom says WKU took notice of his excellent mathematics score on the SAT but she has noticed how Upward Bound has been important to his interaction with people.
“It’s really improved his communication,” said Hollis’ mother Rose Hollis. “Upward Bound has really brought him out in social situations.”
She enthusiastically recommends Upward Bound as a very beneficial program for teens.
“I’d encourage all parents to encourage their kids to participate in the program,” said Rose Hollis. “It teaches kids respect, responsibilities and they make friends.”
Students seem to agree the program is well worth committing their time and energy.
“I love Upward Bound,” said Megan Voils, RCHS Senior. “It’s awesome!”
For more information about Upward Bound at Lindsey Wilson College or the new program at Somerset Community College, contact Stacey Coe at 866-3341.