News & Events

2014 Summer College Institute Success!

“Just. Plain. Fun. Recommend it to everyone.” was the response given from a high school student participating in Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula’s (PGKP) annual Summer College Institute.  The Summer College Institute was held in Homer at the Kachemak Bay Campus of Kenai Peninsula College from June 2-13, 2014. It was another successful event with 12 days of action packed learning and pre-college experiences.  Students left with great things to say about the experience in their evaluations of the program.  When asked to comment on the overall experience one student said simply, “Informative and awesome.”  100% of the students reported that they would recommend the Summer College Institute to their friends and classmates.  Student were also asked to comment on whether or not they experienced growth.  “I experienced growth in my level of confidence, especially when meeting new people,” commented a high school student participant.  Another student said, “I learned that Project GRAD is really cool and made me think about school and the importance of education.”

At the Summer College Institute students were given a choice among four three-hour academic focus groups for the morning sessions: Robotics, Electronics, Radio Broadcasting, and Making a Difference: Positive Youth Activism. These focus groups were organized into hands-on learning experiences in math, science, language arts, and humanities. Students learned computer programming and engineering in Robotics; basic circuitry, currents, electrical flow and physics in Electronics; sound collection, editing, mixing and writing a radio piece in Radio Broadcasting; and how to actively stand behind and promote causes that you feel passionate about in Making a Difference. Afternoons provided students with a choice between Painting with Deland Anderson and Fitness Training with Certified Athletic Trainer, Mary Jo Cambridge. All students engaged in an afternoon communications workshop with internationally recognized facilitator Peter Kauffman who worked with students on effective communication styles, “making room” for others to offer ideas, respectfully accepting ideas, and collaborating in pairs, small groups, and large groups. All classes and workshops were academically challenging and are designed to encourage movement out of comfort zones in a safe and respectful learning environment.

One of the goals of PGKP is to prepare students to be successful in their post-secondary life, so the Campus Family Support program works with students after the academic day is over in small group and individual case management settings. This important component allows many of our students to engage in “dorm life” where they learn the important skills of time management, establishing healthy adult/youth connections, leadership, social skills, positive communication, and personal responsibility.

This year’s Summer College Institute also enjoyed a two-night excursion to at the UAF and NOAA Kasitsna Bay Research Lab where all twenty students participated in an outdoor wilderness survival class: Building an Environmentally Sound Shelter. All students also worked with UAS Fisheries Tech Instructor Joel Markis where they learned about opportunities for study and employment in the field of Fisheries Technology.

Students left with smiles of their accomplishments after presenting and celebrating at the closing ceremony.  One student departed summing up her two weeks, “Summer College Institute was an awesome experience!”

Thanks to all of the funders and partners that made the Summer College Institute possible: Chugach Corporation, Homer Foundation Youth Advisory Committee, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and the US Department of Education’s Alaska Native Education and GEAR UP grants.

Check out Dr. Atwater’s Blog post after attending our Summer College Institute Closing Ceremony: