In GEAR UP program, Everett students both learn and serve

EVERETT — Christie Luttrell wants to be a psychologist, Patrice Burnett hopes to be a veterinarian and Tia-Monette Johnson aims to go into fashion design. Henrik Kiaer plans to join the Navy and Chase Noble wants to go to the DigiPen Institute of Technology. Austin Gergich has his sights set on the music program at the University of Oregon.

But this summer, the six 10th-graders from Everett High School served lunches, organized storage rooms and refinished wooden furniture at the Carl Gipson Senior Center.

They are one of four groups participating in the high school’s GEAR UP program, a grant-funded community service and college preparation course that helps students learn while serving their communities.

“I realized the students really wanted to volunteer but didn’t know how to get started,” teacher Theresa Kemp said. “What I was hoping was we could make a connection and they could continue volunteering.”

So far, it’s working. Most of the students are volunteering extra hours, and some plan to continue volunteering during the school year.

The GEAR UP volunteer hours are not part of high school graduation requirements, Kemp said. The course is about pushing students to go above and beyond.

There are 24 students in the class. During the summer, groups of five or six spend one day a week volunteering around Everett. Along with the senior center, students volunteer at the Imagine Children’s Museum, YMCA and Full Life Care.

Most of the GEAR UP students are from low-income families and would be the first in their family to attend college. Kemp said a sense of community and appreciation for service are important pieces of their education.

“I think it’s the highlight of all of their weeks,” she said.

Kiaer said he wanted to volunteer at the senior center in the summer, and the class gave him the perfect opportunity. He’s done volunteer work in the past and enjoys it.

Johnson said helping out at the senior center is fun. Though she’d like to be able to talk with more of the people at the center, she said all of them have been nice.

“I like serving them lunch because then I get to see all their faces,” she said.

The lunch service is a pleasant surprise for some of the seniors, who are used to waiting in line for their meals. Wednesday is the only day of the week they get waited on, with the six students bringing taco salads, milk and fruit bowls to more than 50 people.

After cleaning up some of the dishes after a recent lunch, the teens split into two smaller groups. Half of them headed outside to refinish wooden furniture for the senior center, and half went downstairs to start organizing a storage room jammed with books, more furniture, and medical supplies.

Shirley Gilday, who has been volunteering at the senior center for several years, said she appreciated the extra hands this summer.

“It’s been thrilling having the kids here,” she said. “They do such a fabulous job, and they like it, too.”

More in Local News

Inclusion super important to Monroe High senior

Sarah Reeves worked to make homecoming more representative of the student population.

Man, 60, in critical condition after Bothell crash

Police believe the driver may have been speeding when he hit a rock wall.

FBI operation arrests 3 linked to exploitation of 32 women

The sting focused on Everett and other cities in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Skagit and Spokane counties.

Man arrested in Monroe Walmart robbery; second suspect flees

The pair fled in a stolen Mitsubishi Lancer with a distinctive green spray paint job.

Fugitive convict, missing more than a year, surrenders

Charles Coggins, 60, turned himself in Monday. He could now spend up to 30 days behind bars.

Former homeless camp needs needles and garbage cleaned up

The Hand Up Project will lead a volunteer effort this weekend on wooded land south of Everett.

County Council postpones vote on conservation programs

A decision on funding agricultural and water-quality programs will come after the budget process.

A Q&A with the candidates running for Snohomish County Council

Republican incumbent Sam Low faces Democratic challenger Kristin Kelly in District 5.

Gang member sentenced as an adult for first-degree assault

Seth Friendly was 16 when he shot at a 17-year-old girl who was dating a rival gang member.

Most Read