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Students prep for higher ed

Superior High School student, Sidny Matheson, front, digs her D net into the water around some lily pads as she looks for invertebrates as Caroline Becker checks her net during the University of Wisconsin-Superior’s Upward Bound Program’s “science week” at Cranberry Lake in Wascott on Wednesday morning. (Jed Carlson/

Alysee Shelton

Lexi Mattson, a sophomore at Superior High School, loved going down to Cranberry Lake every morning to study different types of fish.

Sam Dotterwick, a junior at Superior High School, used an electrocardiogram to discover heart rates of various invertebrate and vertebrate organisms’.

“The summer program is really fun and productive,” Dotterwick said. “You get a great education and make life-long friends.”

Thirty Superior High School students in the University of Wisconsin Superior’s upward bound program spent four weeks on campus taking math, Spanish, English and science classes. On the fifth week, the students get to learn in a nearby community. Last week, they traveled to Wascott to camp out and have “science week” in the woods.

Students were able to identify trees, perform water quality tests, classify vertebrates and invertebrates, launch eggs using scientific methods, study the human body and participate in a variety of science classes such as physiology and chemistry.

“We think it’s a good idea to bring the kids out here in the wilderness,” said Angie Hugdahl, UWS Upward Bound director. “They kids can have hands-on learning, do a lot of self-reflecting and form stronger relationships with the other kids.”

The students started their day with breakfast then attended numerous classes throughout the day with a couple of breaks in-between. After classes are finished, they would participate in a fun group activity such as swimming or kayaking. The night would typically end by gathering around a campfire, roasting marshmallows and recapping their entire day.

Mattson, 15, who was smiling from ear to ear, could not stop gushing about the program.

“I love it. It is such a good program,” Mattson said. “This is my second year being in the program and I just enjoy the summer experience so much. This is my second family.”

The Upward Bound program is a federally funded program brought to UWS in 1999. Its designed to help low income, first-generation high school students finish school and go on to attend a higher education institution. These students take year round college preparatory classes in the field of math, English, Spanish and science. They also receive counseling, tutoring and study skills training. This program serves 56 students year round from the Superior school district.

“When we were learning grammar skills, we did a unit on poetry,” Mattson said. “We learned a lot of sentence structures in Spanish; we apply our math lessons such as the quadratic formula to real life.”

During the summer, students get to experience life as a college student. They get to live in UWS dorm rooms for four weeks and take educational classes.

“It gives the students the idea of what they will face in school next year,” Hugdahl said. “Then when they stay on campus it gives them a taste of the college life.”

To bring the summer program to an end, the students are spending the week in New York City.

“They are so dedicated to the program and spent a majority of their time with us, so we are headed to New York this week,” Hugdahl said.

The students are scheduled to spend the week visiting Columbia University, watching the Broadway show “Wicked,” seeing the 9-11 Memorial and more.

“This program gives the students the opportunities they wouldn’t normally have,” Hugdahl said. “I also love seeing how much they have grown over the last few weeks.”

Dotterwick, 16, said this is his third year going into the camp and encourages students to participate in Upward Bound next year.

“I think the classes have a good impact and it really helps us to be prepared next year,” Dotterwick said. “Staying in the dorms has also been a good experience.”

“This isn’t a program where you must strictly learn,” Dotterwick said. “We do get to have fun and the program leaders/tutors make this experience enjoyable for everyone.”

At the end of it all, Hugdahl said there is nothing more rewarding then seeing the students complete high school and continue on to college.

“This most rewarding thing is hearing when these kids get their acceptance letter,” Hugdahl said. “I get excited to see that college becomes a reality for them.”