REACH students work on team-based problem solving through the Human Knot exercise at the group's recent orientation. REACH students work on team-based problem solving through the Human Knot exercise at the group’s recent orientation.

If you could ask only one question about the REACH Program, “What is a REACH student?” dives into the heart of all other possible questions about REACH.

“The REACH Program is proud of its ability to focus on a student’s individual strengths and support them in exploring their areas of growth, but that personal attention makes defining a ‘REACH Student’ a bit more difficult,” explains REACH Director Laurel Anderson. “We don’t force students onto a set path; we act more like a springboard for their future. The more energy put into the program, the higher and further they’ll go.” 

Students from the 2012 Cohort assist new students as they prepare for a 25-day wilderness expedition. Students from the 2012 Cohort assist new students as they prepare for a 25-day wilderness expedition.

“We look for students who are tired of going through their teen years on auto-pilot,” says Lead Recruiter and Program Manager Julissa Garcia. “Creating a community and experience that challenges students to find creative solutions is essential in building a critical thinker.”

During recruitment, community members, teachers, and parents ask this question, but it also inevitably recurs in the minds of the students themselves. Once the excitement of applying, interviewing, and being accepted sinks in, many students stop to wonder what they have committed themselves to.

Students from the REACH 2012 Cohort explained their view after their first year in the program. According to Carly P., “A REACH student is someone who is willing to take risks and step out of their comfort zone, give back to the community, and do their best to eat right and stay healthy.”

Recognizing that these are lofty and challenging goals, Jacob S. adds, “A REACH student is truly resilient. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t strive like they do, day in and day out.”

Ultimately, each student’s answer was unique, but held to the concept that REACH students are resilient and optimistic community leaders that strive to give back. Over the next year we will follow the 2013 Cohort’s journey from applicants to REACH students as they balance academic, social and family priorities with the rigors of the REACH curriculum.

New REACH students write letters to themselves in advance of their wilderness expedition. Will they be the same people when they receive the letters? New REACH students write letters to themselves in advance of their wilderness expedition. Will they be the same people when they receive the letters?

More Student Quotations:

“A REACH student is a follower while being a leader, an overachiever and a dreamer who reaches out for their dreams and their goals.” –Lucero G.

“A REACH student is one who is brave and willing to take risks. They are always ready to help every student accomplish every task at hand. A REACH student is someone who is optimistic, goal oriented, and willing to go the extra mile when faced with anything.” –Kristen C.

“A REACH student knows how to accomplish goals. They have the will, knowledge, and tools that they need to accomplish anything they put their mind to. They are adventurous, energetic and excited to try new things.” –Becky A.

REACH Director Laurel Anderson answers new students' questions about the program and the upcoming wilderness expedition. "We create a supportive environment where they can try new things. There are always adults nearby to back them up, but the students also watch out for each other, because that's who they are." REACH Director Laurel Anderson answers new students’ questions about the program and the upcoming wilderness expedition. “We create a supportive environment where they can try new things. There are always adults nearby to back them up, but the students also watch out for each other, because that’s who they are.”

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About Transition to Adulthood

REACH is an experiential education program for motivated high school students from California’s Santa Barbara County that prepares them to take control of their future. REACH (which stands for Resilience, Education, Adventure, Community and Health) works to prepare students for lives of purposeful action, continuous learning, and the courageous pursuit of opportunity. READ MORE

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