A balloon tied with a special message traveled about 50 miles from Antlers, OK to Sumner, Tx and a local junior high school student received an encouraging letter in return.
Heather Scott, a seventh grader from Antlers, launched her balloon as part of the National GEAR UP Week celebration Sept. 10-14. Antlers is one of 30 partner schools currently participating in Eastern Oklahoma State College’s GEAR UP for Success program.
All of the Students attached notes to their balloon with a message listing their name, grade and school, as well as their short-term and long-term goals. Scott said her short-term goal was to get better at math, while her long-term goal was to be a cop on the K-9 unit.
Nearly two weeks later, the balloon landed in the front yard of Glen and Sarah Gambill of Sumner, TX, located just outside of Paris, TX. Glen immediately wrote a letter to Scott to say they had found her balloon. His letter included details about he and his wife’s own high school and college experiences, as well as their professional life. Glen is retired from 29 years in the banking industry, while Sarah taught fifth grade for 31 years.
Glen encouraged Scott to continue her education beyond high school in her pursuit of a law enforcement career.
“Sometimes God doesn’t open the doors for what we want right away, but lets us learn skills that will help us later,” he wrote. “Commit yourself to take the opportunity to learn while you are in school.”
Eastern’s GEAR UP for Success program serves current seventh and eighth grade students throughout high school graduation and college admission. The grant serves 30 partner schools in six counties, including Antlers, Atoka, Bokoshe, Buffalo Valley, Canadian, Clayton, Crowder, Frink-Chambers in McAlester, Haileyville, Hartshorne, Indianola, Keota, Krebs, LeFlore, McAlester, McCurtain, Moyers, Panama, Panola, Pittsburg, Quinton, Rattan, Red Oak, Savanna, Spiro, Stringtown, Talihina, Tannehill, Whitesboro and Wilburton.
Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federal initiative to increase the number of low-income students who enter and successfully transition into post secondary education.