McAlester High School GEAR UP students tour UCO and the State Capitol


WILBURTON, OK (Oct. 28, 2015) – The University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond was the site of a recent college/university tour for 31 McAlester High School GEAR UP sophomores and juniors.

Students assembled in a conference room of the Nigh University Center where Office of Undergraduate Admissions Service Representative Gina Hickey welcomed the students to the state’s third largest university. Hickey said UCO is a large university with a small campus feel. The common classroom size at UCO is reported to be 15–19 students. Smaller classes enable students to interact with professors and advisors at a much more personal level than offered at larger universities.

UCO offers an unusual alternative to the typical college tour where a tour guide hurriedly points out this building and that building. Instead, the students are divided into small groups and, accompanied by a chaperone, follow a list of clues provided within a packet that leads them from place to place, point to point throughout the campus.

As students make their way across campus following the clues, they are taken from the “thumb print” in the W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute, past the Pendulum in Howell Hall. They are given a glimpse of the residential halls and several dining student areas. The students visit a cultural art display in the Maxwell Chambers Library and observe an Olympic/Paralympic Training Site located in the Wellness Center.

After the fast–paced scavenger hunt at UCO, students boarded the bus and headed to the Oklahoma State Capitol Building. While touring the Capitol, students received a small peek into the rich heritage of the Great State of Oklahoma. Students were guided through the halls of government and immersed in the diversity that has solidified into what we now call Oklahoma.

After a long day of visiting dominions of education and law, the students returned home to the McAlester High School campus.

“We had a great trip,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Ron Sullivan. “Students received a ‘double dose’ as they visited a great university campus and the state Capitol.”

The day was sponsored by the EOSC GEAR UP in an effort to assist the students in selecting a positive environment and fit, where they will be able to continue their post-secondary educational pursuits and grow to meet the demands of tomorrow’s world.

The GEAR UP Group stopped in front of the “Remember the Rangers” statue before the Capitol Building Tour began. Front Row: McAlester Choctaw Language Teacher Judy Lodes, Karrah Curley, Madison Testa, Rachelle Nooner, Mason Johnson, and Erickson Giles. Row 2: Morgan Newsum, Quianna Hearst, Zion Edwards, JoHanne Kalin, Katie Ferrell, Connor Wilkinson, Chandler Shuman, and McAlester High School Family and Consumer Science Teacher Angela Key. Row 3: Dalton Ferguson, Matt Rattan, Juan Jaimes, Jake Edwards, Emily Patton, Cameron Green, Mallory Nelson, and Brandon Rutledge. Back Row: Nathan Reynolds, Dhilan Patel, Jacob Ethridge, Kristian Ethridge, Tre Rhone, Nat Alexander, Avery Holt, Nic Verner, Jacob Amos, and Noah Cook.

McAlester GEAR UP students Connor Wilkinson, Nathan Reynolds, Zion Edwards, Quianna Hearst, and Morgan Newsum follow McAlester High School Teacher Angi Williamson to check-out when the students at UCO can stop by and grab a meal or snack at Buddy’s. The popular on campus dining facility features an all-you-can-eat buffet stocked with pizza, home-style cooked meals, a cereal bar, stir fry station and a huge dessert area.

McAlester GEAR UP students Kristian Ethridge, Juan Jaimes, Matt Rattan, Dalton Ferguson, Justin Whatley, and Jacob Ethridge take a break from the scavenger hunt to rest and relax at Coyote Jack’s, a popular hangout for UCO students.

McAlester High School GEAR UP sophomore Jake Edwards takes a moment to snap a photo of some of the many displays housed in the Oklahoma State Capitol Building.

McAlester High School sophomores Zion Edwards and Quianna Hearst pose next to the statue of Kate Barnard, the first woman to win a statewide elected office in the United States. She held the office of Commissioner of Charities and Corrections for two terms. She was a key figure in the enactment of a compulsory education law providing for state payments to widows dependent on their children’s earnings, of legislation implementing the constitutional ban on child labor, and of laws aimed at unsafe working conditions.

McAlester students Kristian Ethridge, Matt Rattan, Justin Whatley, and Dalton Ferguson inspect the Western African artifacts on display in the Maxwell Chambers Library.

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