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Mountain Echo

Online newspaper of Altoona Area High School in Altoona, Pennsylvania
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The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

Upward Bound provides opportunity for first generation students
Addisen McDonald
Students can find out more about the Upward Bound program at

Upward Bound projects provide academic instruction in mathematics, sciences, composition, literature and foreign languages for first generation students. This program was first introduced to Altoona students in 2023. 

I expressed my interest in the program last winter, in hopes to find guidance for my college search that would be quickly approaching after my junior year. 

The program works with first generation college students to provide them with college visitation opportunities, financial help and the guidance they need to give them the most success for their future. 

After filling out the application and attending an interview with the past representative, I found that I had been accepted into the program, not realizing the opportunities that would be opened up for me. 

I was soon invited to a meeting for new members where we all received our own, personal Chromebooks, pizza, cupcakes and information on how we can earn stipends throughout our time in the program to help with expenses we face. 

By just participating in the opportunities, such as college visits, summer programs and tutoring, students are able to earn stipends. 

The opportunities above are not requirements for students. For example, students are able to participate in trips within a four hour radius to grasp different college experiences outside of this area. From trips to the Pittsburgh area for fun days at a Pirates game and seeing what their colleges have to offer, to a trip to West Virginia University to see what their “country roads” have to offer, students are able to experience college on different scales, with the additional benefit of earning a stipend.

The program ultimately wants the best outcome for their students, therefore weekly tutoring is also provided. The trips offer new experiences, yet grades are important when in the college search, that is why Upward Bound provides tutoring with Penn State students on Tuesdays and Thursdays to help students who hold grades under a 90%. By maintaining grades higher than this percent, students are considered “check in,” meaning that a stipend can still be earned, by simply filling out a tutoring sheet. While, students attending tutoring just have to show proof of the effort to improve, to also earn a stipend. 

As the program continues to develop, the 2023-2024 school year has brought change for students participating at Altoona. 

With a new representative, Kelly Gallery-Price, now implemented monthly meetings with students in your grade who hold the title as “first generation.” Through this students are able to gain connection, social time within the school day, updates on opportunities being provided, and a continuation of work within our college search. This continuation includes planning future visits, along with building acceptance essays, and resumes for our future. 

As studying for my junior year finals began, that also brought stress for the SAT. From choosing the date to the price of the test and studying for the material itself, the Upward bound staff has helped me through each step of the way. By signing up for the summer test, students will not have their school issued device, but because of my Chromebook that was given through the program, that stress was taken away. As I pay for the SAT myself, that concern was brought up during a meeting at small groups. Yet again, this was no concern to the staff because through upward bound two free SAT tests are covered, along with a practice booklet. 

The program loves to celebrate their students, which is why a separate graduation for students that were active in the program was created this year. This served as a celebration, lunch in, and final send off for graduates in the program.

As the first set of Upward Bound graduates leave the program and head to college, the program is now accepting new students. 


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About the Contributor
Addisen McDonald
Addisen McDonald, Reporter
My name is Addisen McDonald, and I'm a first year staff member on the Mountain Echo. Along with newspaper, I'm also a third year member of the Horseshoe yearbook staff in the position of design editor. Outside of the journalism classroom, I spend my time binge watching "Greys Anatomy," collecting fun sunglasses and practicing baton. This school year I was given the opportunity to be the AAHS feature twirler, which is leading me to achieve my dream goal of becoming a crimsonette at the University of Alabama. I'm so excited to be on staff this year and, as always, roll tide.

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