Students participating in the Upward Bound summer program at Davis and Elkins College are learning life lessons along their path to attend college.
A total of 92 high school students entering the 11th and 12th grades from Randolph, Tucker, Barbour, Pendleton and Pocahontas counties are attending the six-week UB summer program on the campus of Davis & Elkins College.
The program's mission is to "guide low-income and/or first-generation Appalachian high-schoolers to postsecondary success." Students from the five counties in West Virginia can apply to the UB program in the 10th grade, and they attend the summer program as rising juniors and seniors.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Anna Patrick
Students participating in the Upward Bound Summer Program view Greg Fowler’s 1980 Camaro race car last week while learning about tobacco prevention on the Davis & Elkins campus.
"It is a really great program all around," said Anna Ruddle, a UB participant and rising senior at Pendleton County High School. "They do so many different things with us all of the time. We go places that we wouldn't normally see if we didn't have the program."
Students traveled to Stonewall Jackson Lake on June 6 to complete three hours of community service by collecting trash around the site. Then they visited Fallingwater, the famous home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, in Mill Run, Pa. Following the tour, students were able to go on a whitewater rafting trip on the Youghiogheny River.
"It's not just about the trips. They've been helping us get prepped for college," said Dustin Kimble, a UB participant and rising senior at Pendleton County High School.
UB finances the application fee for students to take the ACT and SAT twice. The program also takes students to visit colleges and universities around the state.
Students participating in the summer program are able to apply to the UB Bridge Program after they graduate high school. The Bridge Program allows student to enroll in college classes at no cost and receive college credit from Davis & Elkins College.
"Our programs are grant-funded through the U.S. Department of Education," said Carol Suder-Howes, the director of the D&E College UB Program. "Our goal is to get them to finish high school and go on and complete college. We are trying to get them to be academically prepared for college."
The summer program began June 3 and will conclude with a recognition banquet on July 6. Suder-Howes said the week after the banquet, the students will travel to Virginia Beach for a vacation.
On June 11, Greg Fowler, a representative from the West Virginia Tobacco Quit Line, spoke to UB participants about tobacco prevention while giving them a tour of his 1980 Camaro racecar. Besides working as a Quit Line representative, Fowler is a race car driver in the International Hot Rod Association.
In 2011, Fowler earned the title of 2011 IHRA Division I Champion. His car was always painted red, but recently it received a blue and gold paint job under the request of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Fowler had his car on display for the UB students. He even allowed one student, Morgan Johnson from Philip Barbour High School, to get in his car and start it up.
Using his car as an attention-getter, Fowler then spoke to the students about his success in the racing world and his troubles with tobacco. After smoking cigarettes for 25 years Fowler now suffers from emphysema.
"If you choose to use tobacco, it will affect you forever," he told the students.
Fowler emphasized the importance of standing up to peer pressure and to "just say no." He told the group that in order to be successful, students must "stay healthy, work hard and don't quit."
Kris Kimble the Regional Tobacco Prevention Coordinator organized Fowler's appearance at the program.
"I think this is a great opportunity to encourage young people to not use tobacco products," Kimble said. "If it stops one, it's all worth it."