Friday, November 16, 2001

Holmes students on college track

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        COVINGTON — Ryan Luster needs just a few seconds to tell you his career choice.

        Ryan, 12, is one of about 60 Holmes Junior High seventh- and eighth-graders who attended the GEAR UP Kentucky Expo Thursday at Lexington's Memorial Coliseum.

        Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs tries to get students and parents thinking about postsecondary education before high school.

        GEAR UP is the result of a $2 million federal grant. Holmes was the only Northern Kentucky school represented at the conference, which is for schools where more than half of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

        Ryan wants to be an attorney, and he has a plan to get there. He's taking advantage of one of his favorite things to do.

        “I'm studying hard and taking (advanced placement) classes,” said Ryan, a tuition-paying student from Florence. “I get to argue.”

        Celeste Hill, a 1990 Holmes High graduate, is the dropout-prevention specialist at Holmes and GEAR UP program facilitator. She is best known for her basketball career at Holmes, Old Dominion University and professionally in Israel and Greece.

        “GEAR UP is a way to make students aware of the financial resources, along with pre-college courses they have to take. Some of these students are going to be the first generation of college students (in their families),” Ms. Hill said.

        Other seventh-graders at Holmes Junior High School rattled off their future career choices:

        • Chris Reed, 12, wants to write for a living. “My mom says I write a lot. She says I am good with details.”

        • Adnila Harris, 12, said the choice is between teaching or singing. “Math is my favorite subject, and I like to sing.”

        In Lexington, the Holmes students talked to representatives from various Kentucky colleges and universities.

        GEAR UP information was also available for parents and teachers.

        Ms. Hill said a lack of parental awareness about resources is frustrating.

        “It's upsetting to see students have that opportunity and parents not taking advantage of it,” Ms. Hill said.

        Some Holmes students are starting to discover the possibilities.

        Tearmirra Talley, 12, wants to be a cosmetologist.

        Eighth-grader Sasha Termini, 14, is shooting for a career in photography.

        Then there's Jeremy Iles, 13, who wants to become an architect involved with whatever becomes of the World Trade Center site.

        “I like buildings,” Jeremy said. “I'll rebuild it.”

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