Looking toward the future
Estacada High School seniors took steps toward their future last week.
The school's annual College Application Week program took place Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 7-8, in the campus library. The event is part of a national movement during November with the goal of preparing students and families for education after high school.
All seniors came with their English classes on Wednesday to work on applications for college or financial aid, and those who wished could return on Thursday to finish their work.
Other schools across the state hosted similar events as a part of Oregon College Application Week, an initiative coordinated by Oregon GEAR UP and representatives from the education system and community organizations.
In Estacada, the event was organized by the ASPIRE program, which matches students with trained adult volunteer mentors and coordinates events to help them plan future educational goals.
Those involved with the program describe it as a valuable opportunity for students to plan for the future.
"Students have access to career and college planning," said Cindy Babikoff, Estacada High School's ASPIRE coordinator. "Even if they don't know what they want to do, they can explore options."
Longtime ASPIRE volunteer Mary Ann Bugni spoke to the importance of having a plan for after high school.
"Whether the plan is an apprenticeship, technical certification, a two year associate's degree or a bachelor's degree and beyond, all of those enable students to have a more successful financial future and meaningful life," she said.
Along with Estacada High School staff, college admissions counselors and adults from the community were available to help students with applications.
One such person was Ivan Acosta, a 2013 graduate of Estacada High School who works at Clackamas Community College.
"Being an alum from Estacada, I love helping students from my high school go to college and see what's possible," he said. "(The most valuable part is) the accomplishment of getting something done for college — a financial aid application or a college application. It's validation that they can do it and a push to believe in themselves."
Michele Jones of Reliance Connects also helped students during the program. She's participated in the event for the last several years.
"If kids want to go to college and need help, I want to be a part of that," she said. "I like seeing kids excited about going to college and realizing they can. It can be a little overwhelming sometimes."
On Thursday, Estacada High School senior Brandy Hill worked on an application for Oregon Institute of Technology, where she hopes to study nursing.
"I want to be a trauma nurse. (I'm interested in) getting to learn about the human body and how to help people with different types of medicine," she said.
Fellow senior Domingo Tellis worked on an application to Clackamas Community College, one of the schools where he is interested in studying audio production.
"I'm excited to graduate and for the future," he said.
Acosta noted that College Application Week not only helps students, but the whole community.
"(Students) going to college and bringing that back will impact the community in the future," he said.