Keota GEAR UP students tour Connors State College & the Muskogee War Memorial Park

Thirty-nine Keota GEAR UP seventh and eighth grade students recently toured Connors State College and the Muskogee War Memorial Park, home of the USS Batfish. Students began their day at Connors State College (CSC) in the Fine Arts Auditorium. CSC Assistant Director of Recruitment Megan Duvall and Director of Recruitment Logan Nero provided an introduction to CSC and gave students a flyer and a CSC Cowboys sticker. The flyer showcased CSC’s academic degrees, campus life, tuition cost (comparing the rates of in-state tuition versus out-of-state tuition costs), financial aid and scholarship assistance, and housing. Nero highlighted the NSU 2+2 Program where students can start at Connors State College and transfer all earned credits towards a Bachelor’s degree at Northeastern State University.

Keota students then began a walking tour of CSC. They toured Millers Crossing, a quad dormitory that features single units with four private bedrooms and shared living space. Two students share a bathroom, and each student has a single bedroom. Students roamed through the Education Building and Classroom Building which hosts a variety of courses. Students toured the Melvin Self Fieldhouse, a place to practice and workout. They also toured the Library Learning Center and Gatlin Hall where Student Support Services is located. The tour concluded in the Student Union where the students dined with current college students. After lunch, the students headed to Muskogee War Memorial Park Museum.

Brent Trout, Executive Director of the Muskogee War Memorial Park, welcomed the students to the Museum and the home of USS Batfish SS-310. Students viewed military and peace time artifacts ranging from Civil War to Modern Day. The Muskogee War Memorial Park Museum contains over 4,000 artifacts dedicated to the USS Batfish, military history, and Muskogee history. After reviewing artifacts and enjoying historical memorabilia, the students headed out to tour USS Batfish guided by Brent Trout and Cole Birdsong.

Students stepped inside the USS Batfish, a World War II submarine responsible for sinking 15 Japanese vessels during WWII, an accomplishment unmatched to this day. Students got a glimpse of submarine life during the war. The USS Batfish (SS-310) is a balao class submarine, the second class of fleet submarine introduced during World War II.

“College tours are an important part of Eastern’s GEAR UP program as they give students a firsthand look at life as a college student,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Bethany Hicks. “During the tour of the USS Batfish, the students thoroughly enjoyed hearing about what a day in the life was like on the USS Batfish. They hung on every detail of Trout’s stories.”

The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature. In 2017, Eastern recently received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant and will serve over 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.


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