June 25, 2008



Dan Benge, Upward Bound, 657-2180
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — More than 300 high school students from across Montana will be on the campus of Montana State University Billings this weekend challenging their minds and team-building skills in the state Upward Bound Olympics.


Events begin Friday evening and continue through Saturday at the main campus of MSU Billings, 1500 University Drive. Activities include an “Academic Survivor” competition, Native American games, environmental science exploration, kick ball, a poetry slam, laser tag, tests of math and computer skills as well as art and a challenge to write a legislative bill.


Events begin Friday with a 6 p.m. barbeque and opening activities at Peaks to Plains Park. Saturday’s events begin at 10 a.m. and continue into the late afternoon at different locations on campus. Reno Charette, Native American Studies coordinator at MSU Billings, will also provide a keynote address in the morning.


Upward Bound is a federally-funded college prep program operated at different colleges and universities that serves first-generation, low income high school students. The goal of the program is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from college.


Through a variety of summer and year-round programs, the high school students (from freshmen through senior) are able to attend classes on campus and take advantage of a nine-month academic tutorial program. The instruction centers on math, laboratory sciences, literature, composition and foreign languages. Some other services include instructional advising, personal career development, cultural enrichment, and individual assistance in applying to colleges.


Dan Benge, Director of the Upward Bound program at MSU Billings, said about 340 people from different programs across Montana will be in Billings for the event. Teams will represent programs at Montana Tech in Butte; the University of Montana in Missoula; Chief Dull Knife College in Lame Deer; Fort Belknap College in Harlem; and the MSU Billings program.


Benge said the format of the Upward Bound Olympics has changed in recent years. Instead of holding academic events in the morning and athletic events in the afternoon, students will be split up and rotated through a dozen different activities throughout the day. They will get the chance to compete not only as their home teams, but also with other students from around the state.


“The idea is to break students up a bit so they can work together to solve problems,” he said.


Also this year, all students will have the opportunity to take part in a service project that involves putting quilts together for low-income college students.


To find out more about Upward Bound at MSU Billings, contact Benge or his staff at 657-2180 or see the website www.msubillings.edu/upb.