EVANSTON — The BOOST (BOCES opportunity for self-sufficiency training) program at the Uinta BOCES No. 1 Education Center celebrated 10 years of success on Saturday, Oct. 20, with an all class reunion. Families attended with students, and food and games for the children were part of the celebration.
The BOOST program began in 2008 and has served 200 students overall with a 90-percent completion rate. There are two sessions a year, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., providing training for anyone ages 16 to 24 who has dropped out of school. BOOST provides educational instruction through a Wyoming Certificate of High School Equivalency preparation, life skills training and employment skills training.
Participants qualify through Nicole Espy at the Department of Workforce Services or Vocational Rehabilitation. A two-mill-levy property tax in Uinta County supports the program.
Carol Bourland is the woman behind the success of the program. Bourland has been with BOOST for 22 sessions, since its inception. Coworkers and students all testify to her being the driving force of support for each of them and a person who doesn’t give up on anybody.
The emotional support Bourland and the other teachers provide is important as the program is not easy and requires self-discipline. There is a strict attendance policy. If a student misses three days in a row or a total of 15 hours, they are expelled from the program permanently.
A single mom of two, Maria Cazares was one of the first students to graduate from the program in 2009. She was having a hard time at Horizon High School and had lots of absences. Doug Rigby, the principal at that time, advised her to try the BOOST program.
Cazares said the small classes, shorter days and the 12-week program worked for her. But Cazares said who really helped her was Carol Bourland, who encouraged her and gave her continual support.
“I hated math and wanted to quit,” Cazares said, “but Carol encouraged me to keep going so I did. I went on to take a Microsoft course and now I work as a receptionist here at BOCES. I want to go on and get a marketing degree and maybe do what Kiley Ingersoll does someday.”
Teachers and employees who are part of the success of BOOST include Beth Barker, with the nutrition program; Diane White, coordinator of the adult education program; Peggy Harvey, accountant; Kiley Ingersoll, administrative support and marketing; and Mike Williams, director of BOCES.
Two 2016 graduates of BOOST who are now both enrolled in WWCC classes at the BOCES center are sisters Sydnee and Hannah Davis. Both young women were homeschooled and came to the BOOST program to complete their high school requirements and to prepare for college. Sydnee is majoring in psychology and art and plans to attend Utah State University. Hannah is working on a business management degree and hasn’t decided which college she will attend.
“I liked the BOOST program. Carol and the others are like a supportive family,” Hannah stated.
Shelbi Faddis and her mom, Terrie, attended the celebration together. Shelbi is preparing to graduate with her high school diploma this spring. She dropped out of Evanston High School last year. Her plans are to take some courses here and enter the nursing program. Faddis plans to attend the CNA course from WWCC at the Evanston outreach and live at home for the time being.
Shelbi Faddis’ testimony about the BOOST program was very positive: “I think the program offers good opportunities with lots of life skills training, like cooking, nutrition and all the other training they offer.”
Terrie Faddis added, “The support of the staff was super, Shelbi always came home smiling.”
For those young people who struggle with a traditional educational environment and need more emotional and individual support, the BOOST program provides a positive and successful alternative. Uinta County offers three successful routes toward a high school diploma, job and/or college preparedness: the traditional high school, Horizon High School and the BOOST program.