INQUIRING MINDS – La Conner students Kailey Carlson, Hattie Walls, Ashley Davis and Latesha Guerrero-Gobbert started school ready to share what they learned at various academic camps this summer. They give high marks to the technology and student leadership sessions they attended around the state. – Photo courtesy of Bill Reynolds
La Conner students enjoyed their summer, even those for whom the time off was more of a working vacation. Perhaps especially them. La Conner High junior Ashley Davis attended two separate student leadership events, one in Spokane and another in southwest Washington, while eighth graders Kailey Carlson, Hattie Walls and Latesha Guerrero-Gobert took part in a week-long Tech Trek session at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. They wouldn’t have done it any other way. “It was really neat,” Kailey said of her time at PLU. “Our dorm group was tightly knit. Everyone bonded.” Latesha joined Kailey on the chemistry track at Tech Trek, which is sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), with the group’s Anacortes chapter providing support for the La Conner trio. “We learned a lot about chemistry,” said Latesha, whose mom instilled in her a love of science, dating to their time caretaking at the nearby Kukutali Preserve. “Tech Trek was really fun, a lot more so than I expected.” The program is designed for girls showing an interest in and aptitude for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses. Walls focused on computer science while at Tech Trek. “We learned about binary code,” said Hattie. “I liked how they did it. They taught everything little by little and got more advanced as we learned the vocabulary.” There were activities planned outside the classroom as well. Field trips were arranged for Gig Harbor, Northwest Trek and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. There was also a film night showing of Hidden Figures, the true life story of African-American female mathematicians tasked with calculating the launch of U.S. astronaut John Glenn into orbit. Yet another highlight was a night in which STEM professional women shared their experiences at Tech Trek. “It helped a lot,” Hattie said, “with learning about future career options.” La Conner Middle and High School Counselor Lori Buher said the entire community should take pride in the fact that the Anacortes chapter of AAUW chose three La Conner students during a rigorous application process to attend Tech Trek. “Each school,” said Buher, “usually gets one selection and we had three.” Davis stepped up to attend high school student leadership forums on both sides of the state this summer. Buher wasn’t surprised. “He’s been in student leadership since middle school,” she said of Davis. “He’s always been a positive leader who steps forward when others might step back.” Davis visited the Whitworth University campus for a HOBY (Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership) seminar. “It’s a great seminar,” Davis said. “They definitely get you out of your comfort zone, but it helped that we did a lot of ice-breakers and team-building.” He was also a participant at the annual Cispus Leadership Camp in Randle, where Davis gleaned tips from several motivational speakers. Davis returned from those summer experiences geared up to contribute as best he can to both the school and community at large. “I’m focusing on doing specific public service projects,” he said. “I feel like I should be realizing those kinds of opportunities. “I’m really excited for those leadership opportunities,” he added. Davis is thankful for all those whose sponsorship allowed him to attend the summer seminar and camp. “They’re great, wonderful people,” he said. And they are role models he hopes to emulate.