GEAR UP rally

Motivational speaker Aric Bostick used music, huge television screens, interactive student interviews and even a super soaker to get the attention of more than 2,000 eighth- and ninth-graders Wednesday during a Gear Up Prep Rally at the Bell County Expo Center. Students from Killeen, Lampasas, Temple and other districts in the southern portion of the Region 12 Education Service Center took part in the event, which urged setting positive goals and completing education beyond high school.

BELTON — About 2,000 students in grades eight and nine from throughout the area, including schools in Killeen, Temple, Moody, Rosebud-Lott, Lampasas and Oglesby, attended a GEAR UP “Prep Rally” Wednesday in the Bell County Expo Center, with country music singer Holly Tucker making a guest appearance.

GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness of Undergraduate Programs, is a nationwide program that encourages students to stay in school, develop good study skills and focus on continuing their education after high school to help them develop workforce skills.

Tucker, who graduated from Midway High School in Waco and is a student at Baylor University, gained national acclaim as a contestant on the NBC television program “The Voice.”

She performed two songs at the event and told students that despite the success she has achieved, she still gets butterflies and a pit in her stomach, but she doesn’t let that stop her.

“I don’t let it cripple me,” she said. “I turn it into energy.”

She said she loves to perform for audiences.

“I want to inspire others, and if I can inspire just one person, I’ve done my job. I want to be an uplifting force in the world.”

Angenet Wilkerson, a GEAR UP facilitator at Palo Alto and Nolan middle schools in Killeen, said she likes being part of the program.

“I enjoy helping kids prepare for life after high school, and to help them focus on their vision for the future and to realize they can make their dreams a reality,” she said.

“It’s all about helping these kids build a foundation and plan. I was a teacher, but now I work for Region 12. My goal is simple. To help the kids reach their goals.”

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