Schrader (front from left) and Elmore (left from back) with other Kentucky student representatives and GEAR UP officials. (Photo submitted)
(SPRINGFIELD, Ky.) – A Washington County High School student recently represented the state of Kentucky and the Washington County School District at the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) National Conference in Washington, D.C. Kyle Schrader, a WCHS junior, first became involved in Kentucky chapter of the grant program funded by the Kentucky Department of Education which serves 29 Kentucky middle schools and their corresponding high schools by providing services to students including academic advising, life skills training, summer enrichment programs, e-Mentoring, career exploration, college tours and more, when he took the Pathway 9 class during his freshman year.
Schrader applied to the GEAR UP Academy through that class and was accepted to attend the Summer Academy at the University of Kentucky the summer after his freshmen year. “Since I attended the academy at UK, I was asked to return for the next year’s Summer Academy,” he said. “I chose to attend the second year at Morehead State University based on my interest in Space Science.” Schrader says he was then nominated as the “Washington County Student of the Year” in GEAR UP and subsequently had to submit a video to compete for “Kentucky Student of the Year”. He, along with five other students were chosen to be student representatives from the state at the national conference in July.
Chaperoned by WCHS principal Thad Elmore to the conference, Schrader says he had a great experience at the conference and participated in a presentation and other activities. “I met other students from all over the country, [and] I became good friends with students from Hawaii, Utah and Texas,” he said. “I was on a presentation team. We worked on setting up a presentation on how GEAR UP has helped students realize the importance of higher education. We presented this in front of 1,800 people on the final day in DC. These people include GEAR UP leaders from different states as well as state and federal representatives of the GEAR UP program. I volunteered to be the announcer along with another student from Chicago. We did a skit that our group created and we emceed the event and introduced the other groups as they gave their presentations.”
“Kyle had a great experience at the summer conference as a representative for WCHS and the state of Kentucky,” says Elmore. “During his time [there], I could really tell that he enjoyed the interaction with other students from across the United States and developed leadership skills that will last a lifetime. I look forward in Kyle using this to impact the culture here at WCHS.”
“It was a great honor to have Kyle represent WCHS as the National GEAR UP Conference,” says Washington County Schools Superintendent Dr. J. Robin Cochran. “To see a student lead in front of a large group of adults is amazing. The experiences that Kyle has received from the GEAR UP opportunities are invaluable and I am certain they will impact Kyle throughout his life.”