Among the many benefits the Wasco Union High School District provides to students is the Migrant Education Program.
The supplemental program assists migrant students to meet California and local standards for student achievement through educational instruction.
"The program also refers migrant families to receive health services, as health is crucial to one's opportunity to achieve academic success," said teacher Violeta Okolonwamu, who runs the program for both Wasco high schools.
As a result of frequent moves during the school year, most migrant students demonstrate education needs in reading, math and health services.
Identifying migrant students is a goal in order to provide them with education instruction that promotes optimal physical, intellectual and social development.
The program serves migrant students in countless ways. Over the years, they have helped hundreds of students prepare for the next chapter in their lives post-high school graduation.
"There are many services we provide to help migrant students realize their full potential," said Okolonwamu.
"The main focus is on academics, and we offer migrant students tutoring after school. We also introduce them to Northern and Southern California colleges."
As part of the program, students participate in special workshops and retreats at different universities. This year students will attend a residential engineering program hosted by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Others will take part in a two-week STEM course at UC Santa Barbara, with some attending a leadership program there.
"These retreats would be out of reach financially for migrant families. We fund what would cost parents thousands of dollars through our program," said Okolonwamu.
"It gives many opportunities to those from low-income families," student Gael Lopez said. "Through the program, I have learned that I am not alone. I always have someone I can turn to for help."
"What I love most are the teachers. They are very kind to the students and each other."
This year Lopez will be the first student from Wasco Independence High School to participate in the program's Washington, D.C., trip.
"Every year we take 12 students to Washington, D.C., to understand more about the legislative process. We visit local monuments, including a tour of the White House," Okolonwamu said.
"This will be an important experience because I have never traveled outside of California, except for Mexico," Lopez said.
"It will be a chance to explore more about the rich history of the United States. It will also help me in the future because it will broaden my horizons and give me a more worldly perspective on life."
Wasco Independence High School counselor Vianney Gonzalez is a program graduate.
"As a high school student, it prepared me by showing me options to pursue higher education," said Gonzalez.
"Not only was it an enrichment program, but it also paid for my college applications, so my parents wouldn't have to pay out of pocket. That took the burden off of my family."
The program allows students to communicate and see the success of other students and adults from migrant communities.
"This serves as inspiration and motivation," Okolonwamu said .
A unique component is helping first-generation college students by guiding them along the college path and all of the different elements needed to enroll and later graduate.
"As first-generation college students, the program holds our hands along the journey. I have three other sisters that went through the program, and all of us earned bachelors and masters degrees," said Gonzalez.
"That a migrant family achieved this is remarkable. I credit this accomplishment to the program, and I will forever be grateful."
To learn more about the Migrant Education Program call Gloria Molina at 661-375-9213 or email her at [email protected].