August 04, 2010 Edition

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Summer program gives upper
hand to high school students

Hoxie students Colby Whitlow (left) and Rachael Ditto recently attended the Upward Bound Math-Science Program held at Lyon College in Batesville.
Shantelle Prater
Staff Writer

Hoxie High School rising juniors Rachael Ditto, 17, and Colby Whitlow, 16, attended the Upward Bound Math-Science Program held at Lyon College in Batesville June 12 through July 17.

The summer program is designed to help students achieve the motivation, confidence and academic preparation needed to complete college and successfully pursue careers in mathematics and science.

"Upward Bound is a program that will give a student the upper hand when it comes to wanting to work to their potential," said Hoxie High School Counselor Donna Pinkston.

The five-week residential summer session included mentored research classes, ACT preparation, tutoring, English and literature classes, field trips and cultural enrichment activities.

Students must meet designated requirements to be eligible to attend the program, and both the student and a parent must write an essay as part of the application process. There is no cost to attend, and high school counselors can provide more information to those interested in applying.

At the beginning of each day, students would participate in their chosen research class, which focused on math and science-related subjects such as biology, chemistry, engineering, computer science and physics.

The research classes were held daily from 8:30-10:30 a.m. and allowed students to conduct research as a team. Team members would formulate an approach to a specific problem, conduct experiments and calculations, reach conclusions and prepare a group-technical report under the guidance of a teacher or mentor.

Ditto participated in an entomology class, and Whitlow participated in a chemistry class.

"The class helped me to understand biology more indepth versus classroom studies," Ditto said. "It was more 'hands on.'"

Students participating in the entomology class collected dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies and moths from surrounding lakes and creeks and learned the insects' scientific names and body parts. The class also taught students the correct method for displaying an insect collection.

"I didn't know chemistry could be so cool until I extracted crystals from aluminum cans," Whitlow said.

Students who participated in the chemistry class performed several experiments, including changing colors of different liquids and extracting alum crystals from aluminum cans.

"We also made a gold penny, silver penny and hollow penny," said Whitlow.

Raise ACT scores

ACT-prep courses were also offered to students and focused on the science, English and reading portions of the ACT.

"The science class really helped me," Whitlow said, who raised his math score five points after the summer program ended.

"I wanted to participate in this program because I wanted to raise my ACT scores," said Ditto, who raised her science score by four points.

In addition to the research and ACT classes, students also participated in choice classes and interest clubs.

Classes available for students to choose from during the program included classes in literature and either French or history.

Ditto, who participated in the French class, learned about French culture, including French cuisine, French trends and the school system.

Each student was required to create a presentation on a country with French heritage. Ditto presented the country Morocco, which uses French as its second language.

"My instructor was very detailed with her lessons and made the material stick," Ditto said.

Whitlow, who participated in the literature class "Hero's Journey," read "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope" and "Ask Me No Questions," and studied the main characters' journeys.

"We also wrote our own 'Every Monday Matters' book, which helped me identify the struggles in books and in everyday life," Whitlow said.

The literature class encouraged students to create ideas to make a difference in their lives.

Interest clubs and activities were also held during the program. Interest clubs were held every Tuesday and offered students a chance to learn about chess, cooking, fitness, theater and dance.

Ditto participated in the dance class and learned classical dances, salsa and swing step; and Whitlow participated in a theater class that focused on Sherlock Holmes.

Students visit Memphis, Tulsa, LR

Students were also taken on recreational field trips on the weekends to visit museums, theaters, ethnic restaurants and other attractions in area cities.

In Memphis, students visited the National Civil Rights Museum, ate at a Japanese grill and watched the play "Hairspray" at Playhouse on The Square.

"The play was 10 times better than the movie," Whitlow said. "And the characters were so animated," said Ditto.

The students were also taken on a three-day extended field trip to Tulsa, where they visited the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Gilcrease Museum, saw the play "Oklahoma" and ate at a Spaghetti Warehouse.

"My favorite part of the trip was the aquarium because they have a variety of marine life," Ditto said.

"And I got to touch a shark; it was awesome," said Whitlow.

"Our students need an opportunity like Upward Bound, so they can venture beyond our school and community," Pinkston said.

Other trips included a visit to the Arkansas State Crime Lab and Wild River Country, both in Little Rock; and a tour of Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.

Team challenges were also held during the summer program to teach the importance of teamwork. Activities, such as an etiquette dinner, helped to broaden students' horizons.

"This program has something everyone can learn from," Whitlow said.

"It also shows students what college will be like and helps them to become more social," Ditto said.

Ditto, Whitlow presented awards

At the end of the program, each student received a certificate for completion of the course. Ditto and Whitlow were also presented several awards.

Ditto received Student of the Week and the Entomology Award, and Whitlow received Student of the Week, Star Student and the Highest Chemistry Grade With No Chemistry Background Award.

"Both of these students are very bright and contribute greatly to our school community," Pinkston said. "I see them making a difference in the future in the area they choose to have as a career."

"I just can't say enough good things about it," Dittos mother, Marianne, said of the program.

"It has been a wonderful experience for my son, and we are so glade he had the opportunity to go," said Whitlow's mother, Crystal. "It's an excellent program."

Ditto is the daughter of Greg and Marianne Ditto of Hoxie. She is a junior at Hoxie High School, where she is involved in Youth Against Destructive Decisions Altogether, Future Business Leaders of America, the Traveling Classroom, Hoxie High School Band, Library Club, Art Club, Student Council and the Upward Bound Program.

She is also involved in the Ralph Joseph Youth Leadership Program and is a member of the Leadership Council at the Lawrence County Library.

Whitlow, also a junior at Hoxie High School, is the son of Vance and Crystal Whitlow of Walnut Ridge. He is involved in Student Council, the Traveling Classroom, HOBY and the Upward Bound Program.

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