By RODD CAYTON
The Daily News
BULLHEAD CITY — While juniors at Mohave and River Valley high schools have been focusing on the future since seventh grade, last week they began showing what they can do.
National Gear Up Week in the Colorado River High School District was marked by five days of activities, many of which were led by LEGIT mentors — student leaders charged with helping younger students negotiate the path to being prepared for the real world.
Gear Up stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. The Gear Up program’s goal, coordinators Amber Parker-DeWitt and Diane Beardsley said, is to make sure that each student graduates ready for a two- or four-year college, a trade or vocational school, military service or the workforce.
The mentors started the week at Mohave by setting up an obstacle course for their peers as an exercise in leadership and team building.
Monday was motivational-
inspirational day, Beardsley said, with LEGIT (Leaders Engaging, Growing and Inspiring Together) leaders on both campuses passing out notes bearing uplifting or nurturing quotes.
Tuesday, Mohave hosted a “Lunch with a Leader” event, with Bullhead City attorney Frank Waters.
Both schools marked a day of appreciation for educators, passing out T-shirts and goodies — doughnuts at River Valley and office supplies at Mohave.
Wednesday, students from both schools took a field trip to ASU Colleges at Lake Havasu City, an extension of the Arizona State University system.
They talked to instructors, went on a student-led tour and heard presentations on financial literacy and admissions.
The coordinators said the trip exposed the students to a wide variety of opportunities available a short distance away. They were impressed by the campus’ small class size and intimate atmosphere.
Veterinarian Erika Cartwright of Advanced Animal Care in Fort Mohave visited River Valley on Thursday. Mohave’s guest was dental hygienist Steve Smith of Jennings, Larson & Larson Family Dentistry, a former police detective who spoke about both careers.
The LEGIT leaders also worked on interview skills.
Friday, staff at both schools received training on new 3-D computers secured through a federal grant via Gear Up.
Beardsley said the computers have applications in several disciplines, including science, where students can get experience dissecting various animals. She said the computers and related software spare the district the expense of replenishing cadaver supplies.
The pair said Friday that the week was a success. Parker-DeWitt said that perhaps the LEGIT leaders set the tone for the week by decorating both campuses.
“They came and took ownership of the week,” she said.
The local Gear Up program started in 2012, when today’s juniors were in seventh grade. The coordinators have followed them from junior high to high school.
Beardsley said the students appreciate having a consistent presence in their lives, whether on the “D” or “F” list or a great student or star athlete.
Parker-DeWitt said she has received emails from teachers at Mohave who notice that the students feel like they’re getting support, to an extent not noticed in previous classes.
Every junior at the two schools — 280 at Mohave and 135 at RVHS — is enrolled in Gear Up.
As part of National Gear Up Week, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey made a proclamation declaring Arizona GEAR UP Week in the state. Bullhead City Mayor Tom Brady made a proclamation of his own Monday.
Parker-DeWitt and Beardsley said Brady’s action sends a message to the youth that the community supports education.
“It’s especially nice that he didn’t just read what the governor did, but made it homemade,” Parker-DeWitt said.