Thirty-six McAlester Public School seventh grade GEAR UP students recently traveled to Muskogee to tour Bacone College and The Five Civilized Tribes Museum. The tour began at Bacone College in the Ginny Palmer Center where students met with Athletic Compliance Director/Admission Specialist Juan Davis. Davis shared the history of Bacone, stating the college was the oldest institution of higher learning in Oklahoma. While Bacone was originally established to provide education to Native American students, the institution is now culturally diverse. Bacone College is a private, four-year liberal arts college. Students discussed admission requirements, degrees and activities offered by the college.
Classes at Bacone are offered Monday through Thursday, with tutoring offered to students all day on Friday. The college also offers the TRIO program, which helped college students succeed in educational goals while monitoring classroom attendance.
Students met the President of Bacone College, Ferlin Clark. Clark advised students to succeed in college and in life, they would need to “stay off drugs and alcohol and pay attention in class.”
Bacone Librarian David McMillan advised students to “be careful of sources as there is something called fake news. Ask yourself, ‘Do they have a bias?’”
McAlester students ate lunch in the Ginny Palmer Center where they chose from a variety of items by Sodexo, Inc. After lunch, they traveled to The Five Civilized Tribes Museum.
Museum Director Sean Barney and Tour Guide Ryan Crow provided students with a tour of the The Five Civilized Tribes Museum.
Barney educated students about Native American culture and history, stating Native American children previously attended boarding schools where they would work nine hours in order to receive three hours of education. As Barney discussed educational history, students noted irons used previously by children who attended boarding schools known as “manual labor schools.”
Crow provided students with a tour of the upstairs rooms at The Five Tribes Museum. Students viewed art by Master Artists Jimmie Carol Fife and Valjean McCarty Hessing.
“My favorite part of the day was viewing ‘Little Bear’ because it made me think about having to find food by hunting,” said Keenan Hearst, Jr.
McAlester student Alex Holmes said, “I enjoyed visiting with Mr. McMillian. He was funny and gave lots of questions.”
“I liked the history and Mr. McMillian’s facts,” added Garrett Buxton, “because I also want to become a historian.”
“Today was a wonderful day,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Stephanie Dow. “Our McAlester students greatly enjoyed attending both Bacone College and The Five Civilized Tribes Museum. I am thankful to be a part of the GEAR UP program which allows me to participate in days like today where I am able to see the students interact and learn. These students were extremely interested in learning about continuing their educations and were able to demonstrate knowledge they received by answering questions posed to them following the tours. They were not afraid to ask questions or demonstrate true interest.”
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 received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant and will serve over 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.