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VSAC celebrates GEAR UP Week with science, STEM fair, music and bucket lists

Students will explore robotics, neuroscience and ‘Afropop’ music with A2VT

WINOOSKI (September 10, 2018)—Vermont Student Assistance Corp. is pulling out the stops for GEAR UP Week, Sept. 17-22, at 20 schools across Vermont.

Students will join in special activities and programs as part of VSAC’s GEAR UP college-access program, including a two-day STEM fair, Montshire Museum’s Pop-Up Science program, performances by A2VT, Hunter Paye, Patrick Ross and appearances by motivational speakers Sebastian Terry and Ed Gerety.

Nearly 400 students will attend the STEM fair at Miller’s Run School in Sheffield that features two dozen exhibitors and activities, from learning “green screen” technology to using radio telemetry to track animals and how researchers use neuroscience to measure responses from the body to learn more about the human brain and human behavior. Four colleges will also be on hand. 

Representing Somalia, Tanzania and Burundi and currently living in Burlington, Vermont, A2VT synthesizes their native African musical and dance roots with Western pop and Hip Hop sensibilities. Their songs, performed in up to eight unique languages, reflect their journey from Africa to America, and celebrate the musical collision of two continents. They’ll be playing at North Country Union Junior High School and Winooski High School.

Sebastian Terry, author and creator of, will join students at Craftsbury Academy and Winooski High School to explore “bucket lists” and inspire students to chase their dreams and help others do the same. Back by popular demand, Ed Gerety is nationally known author and public speaker who focuses on creating a positive school culture and empowering students to achieve their goals.

“GEAR UP Week is a great way to kick off the school year with a celebration that brings the entire school community together and focuses on students’ future potential and possibilities,” said Dianne Griggs, director of GEAR UP at VSAC.

GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a federal grant program of the U.S. Department of Education designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

In Vermont, VSAC’s outreach counselors work with over 2,500 middle and high school students individually, in small groups and in classrooms in schools across the state. GEAR UP also provides support to parents, which includes high school and college planning information, assistance with college and financial aid applications, and career planning information for their children.

In addition to the academic and career programming, when these GEAR UP students continue their education after high school, they are eligible to receive a scholarship for up to four years of schooling.

About VSAC – Changing Lives through Education and Training since 1965

Vermont Student Assistance Corporation is a public, nonprofit agency established by the Vermont Legislature in 1965 to help Vermonters achieve their education and training goals after high school. VSAC serves students and their families in grades 7-12, as well as adults returning to school, by providing education and career planning services, need-based grants, scholarships and education loans. VSAC has awarded more than $600 million in grants and scholarships for Vermont students, and also administers Vermont’s 529 college savings plan. Share your VSAC story by email to or submit a video to YouTube. Find us at or check in on Facebook and Twitter. #changing lives