June 23, 2005
Cowley PEAKS program completes Summer Jam enrichment trips
Some students had never eaten at a nice restaurant. Some had never ridden on a chartered bus. Most had never been to the Kansas City Royals’ Kauffman Stadium.
Those were just some of the experiences students in Cowley College’s PEAKS program had earlier this month during Summer Jam I and Summer Jam II.
Jason O’Toole, PEAKS program director, said the end-of-the-year camps were designed to provide students with cultural enrichment trips that combine academic as well as “fun” experiences.
“We also do workshops, bring in speakers and do a variety of things,” O’Toole said. “The first group stayed in the Cowley dorms. They get a chance to see a college campus and live with a roommate for a few days.”
PEAKS students who attended Summer Jam I pose for a picture outside the Brown Center for Arts, Sciences and Technology on Cowley College's Arkansas City campus.
PEAKS students who attended Summer Jam II pose for a picture outside Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals baseball team.
Summer Jam I, for 50 sixth- and seventh-graders, was held June 7-9. Business and Service Technology Department Instructor JoLynne Stalnaker conducted a computer technology workshop, and the students also conducted a scavenger hunt at the Chaplin Nature Center, visited the historic Marland Mansion in Ponca City, and went to Sun ’n Fun water park.
Summer Jam II, held June 14-16, was attended by 48 eighth- and ninth-graders. The group took a chartered bus to Topeka, where it visited Old Prairie Town, the state capital, and the Kansas Museum of History. The group then went from Topeka to Kansas City, where it ate at the Rain Forest Café, saw the Disney musical “On the Record,” visited Union Station, the 911 exhibit, Science City, and a steamboat museum. The group wrapped up its visit to Kansas City by eating at The Cheesecake Factory on the Plaza and seeing the Royals play the Los Angeles Dodgers.
O’Toole said the summer trips were an important part of the yearlong experience.
“It’s really good for the students,” he said. “The students spend nine months with us being tutored, checking out laptop computers and getting academic help. The main thing is to get these students out and about for a camp after school’s out.
“They’re not only learning academically, but we’re getting them out and letting them get some real-world experiences. At restaurants, we teach them proper manners, how to act, and how to deal with waiters and waitresses. It’s a very good experience for them.”
The PEAKS program’s six advisors accompanied the students on the trips.
PEAKS is an Educational Talent Search program that is one of three federally-funded TRIO programs at Cowley. The other two are IMPACT and Upward Bound. PEAKS’ main purpose is to identify students who have the potential to enter and succeed at the postsecondary education level. The professional staff is trained to help students make critical choices on their journey to college.
PEAKS serves 600 students in sixth through 12th grades in south-central and southeast Kansas. Cowley’s program is in partnership with Independence Community College.
PEAKS will be accepting applications for new students in August. For more information, contact O’Toole at (620) 441-5387.