• December 9, 2019

OC gives Ector a sense of college - Odessa American: Odessa College

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OC gives Ector a sense of college

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  • IT’S AN INVASION

    Eleven-year-old Yareily Cartagena pulls a block out of a Jenga type game as Anatomy Physiology teacher James J. Bolton watches. Each block has situation written on is and the student then has to match it to a specific career. Odessa College students and professors spent the day with the students at Ector College Prep Success Academy through their OC Invasion program. The event is designed to give Ector's students a sample of different areas of study they offer at Odessa College.

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2019 4:27 pm

Festivities kicked off Tuesday with a pep rally in the Ector field house. During the two-day event, Jonathan Fuentes, executive dean of academic partnerships at OC, said they probably saw all roughly 1,400 students from Ector. A set-up crew installed 12 stations where students could get involved in activities and talk to faculty and staff from OC.

Fuentes said students participated in activities from the OC Fab Lab, engineering, math, health sciences, science, auto and diesel technology, cosmetology, English and others.

“We’re working on the college-going culture across ECISD and across all the schools in Ector County,” Fuentes said. “And as part of that, we’re working very, very closely with Ector College Prep Success Academy. … We’re committed to having these students thinking about college now.”

He added that the event could help students get more comfortable with the idea of college.

“We were talking in the pep rally yesterday (Tuesday). We were explaining that they’ve seen us a lot and they’re going to continue to see us a lot, so we want to become a place where they’re comfortable and where they know people and are willing to step foot on campus and not having any anxiety about doing so,” Fuentes said.

He said OC is in the planning stages for its next invasion in the spring. They haven’t decided where they’re going, but once they make the announcement they will work with the campus on a list of activities they plan to engage in.

“I think the faculty and staff at Odessa College love these invasions, so when they come around you see that everybody’s willing to lend a hand; everybody’s willing to do their part to make sure that we’re building that college-going culture and at the same time having fun. These are engaging lessons where students can really get hands-on experience in education, but also have fun at the same time,” Fuentes said.

Angela Disley, who is with academic partnerships at OC and is a college connection coach, said she works with Ector frequently.

At her table, students were building structures with straws and connectors. The materials are from the Fab Lab. The activity encourages students to use their imaginations, use different materials to make things and think in 3-D.

“They can work in teams and try to collaborate with each other and try to build the tallest structure that they can, or they can do it themselves. They’ve been having a lot of fun with it, too, and gotten competitive about it,” Disley said.  

Allystair Jones, science department at OC, had students look through microscopes and take cell samples from their cheeks that they could examine under the microscope.

“… It’s very engaging for the student to be able to look at their own cells, rather than something that’s prepared …,” Jones said.

Jones added that he participates in as many invasions as possible.

“I like engaging with the students and I love to see the wonder in their eyes when they see something new. The exploration they get to experience (is) why we’re here,” he said.  

Department Chair of Occupational Safety and Environmental Technology Jessica Jordan was standing by a grouping of plastic containers filled with sand where students can take a representative sample.

“What I’m showing them today is a representation of a chemical spill with high concentrations of contamination of the soil where they can take a soil sample and do a field test and determine whether or not it needs to go to a lab,” Jordan said.

Ector Assistant Principal Reagan Paquette said the invasion has gone well and it was lots of fun. The pep rally Tuesday included professors, administrators and student life. The Jackalopes hockey team also visited.

 “I wanted to get them excited about this because sometimes for our kids when you say college they say I’m not going to college, or I don’t want to go to college, or that’s just more school. So by having the pep rally and bringing this here, we want to bring college to them and make it a fun experience. So far, they’ve been really excited,” Paquette said.

Students also received OC T-shirts that they can wear for college shirt day each Wednesday.

“Walking down the hallways, they’re all wanting to come back,” she said.

Students were getting their hands massaged by cosmetology, decorating cookies, doing battle ropes to say no to drugs.

“I think they’re getting to see something about college that they haven’t seen before because they don’t really get the chance to go to OC, or see anything about it, so I think bringing them here is a perfect opportunity,” Paquette said.

She added that events like this are crucial.

“I think not only does it open their eyes to more than they thought about college, but I think for the ones that do want to go to college it opens up more of a door for them. Some of our kids already know what they want to do when they grow up; some of them aren’t sure. So I think things like this either solidify what you want to do, or kind of open your eyes to more opportunities. But getting it started now in middle school is so important because by the time high schools starts if you want to do dual credit, which is what I hope they all do, then you start really fast so knowing it in middle school is a prerequisite to dual credit in high school. You can never start thinking about college too early in my opinion,” Paquette said.

Principal Charles Quintela said it’s all about exposure.

He said the event is a way to build curiosity in students to learn and research careers.

“… The whole impetus of this is we’re always giving them more information. More information is always better. I think it’s just a great deal …,” Quintela said.

Micah Molina, a 13-year-old eighth grader, said the “invasion” helps them get ready for college and learn about things they want to go into.

“It’s a good push toward what we want to do and it opens our mind to what every section does, or what parts you can go to,” said 14-year-old eighth-grader Adaly Olmos.

Molina said she really liked the pep rally.

“I feel like they had a lot of activities planned and I just think it’s good that we’re getting involved with OC,” Molina said.

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