Spiro GEAR UP juniors tour OU and visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial


WILBURTON, OK (Nov. 18, 2016) – GEAR UP Juniors from Spiro recently toured the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Graduate Assistant with the Office of Admissions and Recruitment Hunter Guarnera spoke with the students in Jacobson Hall Visitor Center before the tour began. The students watched a video about OU. Guarnera shared that OU stands for “WE are SOONERS, WE are INNOVATORS, WE are FAMILY, and WE are GLOBAL CITIZENS.”

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma just 20 minutes south of Oklahoma City. OU’s Norman undergraduate population is just over 20,000, giving students a major university experience in a private college atmosphere. With three campuses in Oklahoma, OU also offers study abroad opportunities at several locations and OU campuses overseas.

Oklahoma Sooners reflects our state's American Indian and pioneer heritage and, today, symbolizes a special university spirit that values resilience and perseverance as well as the inclusivity that unites all who are a part of the University of Oklahoma family.

Guarnera explained that there are over 400 student–led campus organizations and many academic programs. OU ranks No. 1 in the nation among all public institutions in the number of National Merit Scholars enrolled, with more than 800 National Merit Scholars. OU is the only public university in U.S. history to ever rank first among both public and private universities in the number of freshman National Merit Scholars. OU has the academically highest ranked student body at a public university in Oklahoma history.

Known for its football team, Guarnea explained that many other OU athletic teams have achieved success. OU has 32 national titles with the last three being in women’s softball, men’s gymnastics and women’s gymnastics. All activities are free on campus with a student ID except for the men’s basketball and football games.

“I want to play in the marching band here at OU and play at the football games” said Spiro junior Tory Eatmon.

OU is a leader among all American universities in international exchange and study abroad programs. OU has expanded Study Abroad programs to include popular programs in Arezzo, Italy; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Puebla, Mexico. One in three OU students study abroad during a four–year period with one in five of those students participating at OU’s signature study abroad program in Arezzo, Italy. OU currently offers programs in 79 countries and over 223 cities in six continents. Students from 120 countries are enrolled at OU.

OU business major Nick McGee explained the history of the campus buildings, the myths of the campus and some events that take place on the campus. The William Bizzell Library intrigued the Spiro students as they learned about the Great Reading Room.

“I liked that you could study in groups and have a room to study if needed,” said Blake Robbins. “That will help at a big school so you can get help in the harder classes by working together.”

Students passed the Science Hall, the Chemistry Hall, the Fred Jones Jr. Memorial Art Center and Gaylord Hall—the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications—where the students were able to see products that OU students prepared and were on display.

Final stop was the Oklahoma Memorial Union where there are places to eat and lounge inside.

The next stop on the day’s adventure was the Oklahoma City National Memorial. At 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995, a truck-bomb explosion outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, left 168 people dead (including 19 young children who were in the building’s day care center). More than 650 other people were injured in the bombing, which damaged or destroyed more than 300 buildings in the immediate area. The blast was set off by anti-government militant Timothy McVeigh, who in 2001 was executed for his crimes. His co-conspirator Terry Nichols received life in prison. Until September 11, 2001, the Oklahoma City bombing was the worst terrorist attack to take place on U.S. soil.

“I can’t believe someone would do this especially with kids being in the building,” said Jayden Potter. “My heart aches for those families.”

Students walked throughout the museum and learn about Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, the men, women and children that lost their lives, the survivors, the families that lost a loved one and even the stories of the community that was impacted by this act of terrorism.

“I feel this was such a great opportunity for us to come see this museum and gain knowledge of the bombing because so many of our class didn’t know about it,” said Hannah GIllliam. “We all need to know about it as Oklahomans.”

“Being from Oklahoma, I am thankful each of my students get the opportunity to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial to have a better understanding of the attack,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Dara Self. “The University of Oklahoma was very welcoming to the students and provided the students with the opportunity to see their dreams ‘CAN’ be made possible right here at OU!”

The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature.

Spiro students gather in front of Evans Hall, home of OU’s Administration and Finance. Squatting are Antonio Johnson, Bradlee Chronister, Matthew Smith, Kirwin Horton, Kaylie Smith, Chloe Rogers, Jaden Brown, Darian Sharp and Madison Osborne. Standing are Cade Blankenship, Blake Hammontree, Bradlee Chronister, Seth Crawford, Alexis Harrison, Alfred Stringer, Tory Eatmon, Blake Robbins, Ashlyn Real, Isaiah Jaramillo, Hannah Tobler, Maverick Sullivan, Hannah Gilliam, Jayden Potter, Malory Moore, Morgan Shaw, Cedric Cobb, Abigail Smith and Katrina McClain.

OU tour guide Nick McGee finished the tour of OU by explaining the different events on campus, answering questions and encouraging the students to take the ACT as many times as they can this year. Nick discussed his major in business and that he had changed it two different times.

“Nick did a great job with the students and giving them the history of OU,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Dara Self.

Spiro junior Cedric Cobb (the tallest young man on the field trip) crawled under the Sooner Schooner to see for himself if the tour guide was telling the truth about “Texas Sucks” being written underneath the wagon. It was!

Spiro juniors at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, Bottom Row: Kaylie Smith, Jaden Brown, Chloe Rogers, Darian Sharp, Dylan Ridenour, Antonio Johnson, Kirwin Horton, Cade Blankenship, Bradlee Chronister, Matthew Smith, Blake Hammontree, Zachary Jeffery and Seth Crawford. Top Row: Maverick Sullivan, Katrina McClain, Morgan Shaw, Malory Moore, Hannah Tobler, Hannah Gilliam, Cedric Cobb, Jayden Potter, Blake Robbins, Alfred Stringer, Isaiah Jaramillo, Tory Eatmon, Abigail Smith and Alexis Harrison.

Oklahoma City National Memorial Educational Staff Member Whitney Swyden explained all of the different areas of the interactive table found in the Museum with the students. The students were able to use the table to explore the area prior to the bombing.

“Getting to use the hands-on screens was really a neat way to learn about what happened, who was involved and where everything was located not only before but during the recovery of survivors” said Morgan Shaw.

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