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GEAR UP Lowell can help middle-schoolers prepare for college

By From the Lowell Sun

LOWELL -- GEAR UP Lowell could be available to you.

GEAR UP is a free program designed to prepare parents and students for college success. It's never too early to prepare for college. GEAR UP is currently providing free services to incoming eighth-grade students and their parents at the Stoklosa, Rogers, Robinson, Sullivan, and Butler middle schools.

GEAR UP Lowell is a 6-year college awareness program funded by the U.S. Department of Education that will follow current students until they graduate from Lowell High School.

GEAR UP Lowell is a partnership between UMass Lowell, Middlesex Community College and the Lowell public schools. It provides such services as in-school and out-of-school tutoring, after-school enrichment programs, field trips, in-school college and career awareness programs, parent/child workshops, parent education programs, and family fun nights.

GEAR UP Lowell is not only for students. Parents can take advantage of the many free programs designed specifically for them. The program offers parent education classes such as computer training, English as a Second Language and parent discussion groups.

GEAR UP also offers one-day workshops that include such topics as transitioning from middle school to high school, rules and regulations of Lowell High School, financial aid, the college admissions process.

GEAR UP Lowell is able to offer these programs by collaborating with community partners such as the Revolving Museum, Girl Scouts, the Greater Lowell Boys and Girls Club, Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership, and Lowell Telecommunications Corporation.

GEAR UP was fortunate last year to host successful family fun nights such as the Robinson Math Trail and the fun "Survivor" family night that was held at Lowell High School's Freshman Academy. At those events, families won free raffle prizes, including dinner for two at Chili's Restaurant, gift certificates to Hannaford and Red Sox tickets. More than 30 students and parents were lucky enough to attend a free end-of-the-year Red Sox game provided by the Boston Red Sox and GEAR UP Lowell.

Everyone has the potential to go to college, and GEAR UP can make the process a little easier.