McAlester GEAR UP students tour UCO & the State Capitol


WILBURTON, OK (Feb. 19, 2016) – Twenty–five McAlester High School sophomore and junior GEAR UP students (mostly MHS football players) braved the cold, blistering wind to tour the University of Central Oklahoma campus in Edmond. Before embarking on a campus–wide scavenger hunt, the young men assembled in a conference room in the Nigh University Center where they were welcomed by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions Service Representative Gina Hickey. Hickey explained to the students that they were about to tour the state’s third largest university. She reviewed admission standards and provided them with an overview of campus life. The largest classroom size at UCO is reported to be approximately 29 students. The smaller classroom size enables students to interact with their professors and advisors at a much more personal level than offered at larger universities. Short visits with several current UCO students confirmed this fact as a primary reason they were at UCO.

The campus tour offered to student groups visiting the campus differs from many of the traditional guided tours in that there is not a representative of the college hurriedly pointing out this building and that building. Instead, the students are divided into small groups and, accompanied by their chaperone, follow a list of clues provided within a packet that leads them from place to place and point to point throughout the campus. As the students read through the clues they are provided with a vast array of information regarding UCO’s history as well as their view for the future.

As the students navigate the campus following the map and clues provided, they are taken from the Thumb Print in the W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute, past the Pendulum in Howell Hall, and are given a glimpse of the residential halls with several dining student areas mixed in. The students also visit a cultural art display in the Maxwell Chambers Library and observe the Olympic Training facility located in the Wellness Center. As the majority of the McAlester students were off season football players, one of the locations that generated great interest was a look into the facilities located in the Wantland Football Stadium.

After the scavenger hunt, students boarded the bus to central Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma State Capitol Building.

While touring the State Capitol the students received a small peek into the rich heritage of the State of Oklahoma. The students were guided through the halls of government and immersed in the diversity that makes Oklahoma the great state it is today. As the students toured the Capitol building, preparations were being made for a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Oklahoma’s Arts Council. One of the guest artists, premier violin player Kyle Dillingham, took a few moments to visit with the students and then “wow” them with an impromptu rendition of Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

After a long day of visiting dominions of education and law, the students returned home to the McAlester High School Campus. The day was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP in an effort to assist the students in selecting a positive environment and fit, where they will be able to continue their postsecondary educational pursuits and grow to meet the demands of tomorrow’s world.

“Each field trip with students has offered a unique and unplanned surprise,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Rachael Ranallo. “It was very exciting for our group to experience Mr. Dillingham’s violin skills! He is phenomenal! This was a new perspective on the art that students wouldn’t have normally experienced.”

Undergraduate Admissions Service Representative Gina Hickey welcomes McAlester students to campus in the George Nigh University Center to go over UCO admissions, scholarships, campus life and programs/majors offered. Pictured are: Front row: Clayton Slater, Harley Martin, Matt Drake, Miles Rolan, Eli Martin and Austin Morgano. Second Row: Rhett Regan, Austin Vilar, Bryce Singleton, Matt Dombek, Braviance Brown, Guztavo, Monreal, Sam Shelton, Dakota Mick, Anthony Watts, Dylan Bigham and Austin McKay. Third Row: Dakota Smead, Kenneth McCarroll, Laloulu Henry, Stephon Davis, Jayson Quintero and Greyson Rolan. Back Row: Lucas Cable, Principal Paula Meadows, Coach James Singleton, and Coach Taylor Barr.

Students found the Pendulum in Howell Hall, a clue on the campus scavenger hunt. They also ran into a former MHS student who attends UCO this year. Pictured are:
Eli Martin and Kenneth McCarroll.

Students stopped the scavenger hunt long enough to get a picture with the UCO mascot the Broncho. Student posed “holding up their Buffs”. Pictured are Clayton Slater, Matt Drake, Davian Noels, Austin McKay, Dylan Bigham, Braviance Brown, Rhett Regan, Dakota Mick, Austin Vilar, Sam Shelton, Guztavo Monreal, Lucas Cable, Miles Rolan, Laloulu Henry and Jayson Quintero.

McAlester Coach James Singleton gives students the next clue during the scavenger hunt. Students Braviance Brown and Miles Rolan decipher the clue to unveil the next location.

McAlester students get a quick pic with the Broncho Rock or “BRock”. The Rock is painted frequently by student organizations to advertise events and activities around campus. Pictured are Jayson Quintero, Guztavo Monreal, Lucas Cable, Laloulu Henry, Greyson Rolan, Rhett Regan and Austin Vilar.

Oklahoma State Capitol Tour Guide Bill Parks shows students the famous paintings hung around the Capitol building. The picture above shows a depiction of the trains running through McAlester to pick up coal. This wonderful piece of art captures McAlester’s history and culture as many families settled in McAlester to work in the coal industry. Students pictured are Dakota Smead, Kenneth McCarroll, Harley Martin, Guztavo Monreal, Davian Noels, Austin Morgano, Austin McKay, Anthony Watts, Greyson Rolan, Principal Paula Meadows, Braviance Brown, Austin Vilar, Dylan Bigham, Eli Martin, Miles Rolan, Rhett Regan, Laloulu Henry, Jayson Quintero, Coach James Singleton and Stephon Davis.

McAlester students were welcomed in the press box inside the House of Representatives Chamber while a group of middle school students were having a mock session to review a bill concerning cell phone usage while operating a motor vehicle. Pictured are: Bryce Singleton, Matt Dombek, Guztavo Monreal, Miles Rolan, Laloulu Henry, Jayson Quintero, Dakota Smead, Harley Martin, Austin McKay, Dylan Bigham, Dakota Mick, Rhett Regan, Kenneth McCarroll, Austin Morgano, Greyson Rolan, Sam Shelton, Eli Martin, Clayton Slater, Tour Guide Bill Parks and Principal Paula Meadows.

McAlester students got to hear Professional Fiddler Kyle Dillingham perform while visiting the OK State Capitol. Pictured are: Front row: Davian Noels, Dakota Smead, Anthony Watts, Kyle Dillingham and Guztavo Monreal. Second row: Dylan Bigham, Stephon Davis, Austin Vilar, Rhett Regan, Matt Dombek and Braviance Brown. Third row: Lucas Cable, Harley Martin, Sam Shelton, Austin McKay, Matt Drake, Bryce Singleton and Greyson Rolan. Back row: McAlester Buffalo football coaches Taylor Barr and James Singleton.

McAlester students taught Professional Fiddler Kyle Dillingham how to “hold up your Buffs”. Pictured are: Front row: Jayson Quintero, Kenneth McCarroll, Davian Noels, Dakota Smead, Anthony Watts, Kyle Dillingham, Guztavo Quintero, Miles Rolan and Principal Paula Meadows. Second row: Clayton Slater, Eli Martin, Dylan Bigham, Stephon Davis, Austin Vilar, Rhett Regan, Matt Dombek and Braviance Brown. Third row: Austin Morgano, Dakota Mick, Laloulu Henry, Harley Martin, Sam Shelton, Austin McKay, Matt Drake, Bryce Singleton and Greyson Rolan. Back row: Lucas Cable, Coach Taylor Barr and Coach James Singleton.

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