High school students to go hunting at College Fair Plus

The 32nd annual College Fair Plus at the Cashman Center today and Wednesday can be described with a lot of numbers, including two different scavenger hunts and $1,000 scholarship prizes.

The event drew more than 7,500 high school students and parents and representatives from 200 different institutions last year. The vendors represented 34 states and the District of Columbia.

As of Monday, representatives from about 150 different colleges, military, vocational and financial aid services had signed up to participate this year.

They are as diverse as Barstow Community College in California, Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and Sewanee The University of the South in Tennessee.

Fees paid by vendors have generated enough income in the past to pay for a $1,000 Guidance Counselor Scholarship for one student from each comprehensive high school in Clark County.

The fair is organized by guidance counselors from the Clark County School District and the federally funded Center for Academic Enrichment at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which includes GEAR-UP, Gaining Early Awareness Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.

GEAR-UP and Spring Valley High School, 3750 S. Buffalo Drive near Flamingo Road, are organizing bus transportation for students.

To get students to seek college representatives they might otherwise overlook, two different scavenger hunts will be held, each one independently organized by GEAR-UP and Spring Valley High.

"It's important they recognize as many college options as possible," said Tava McGinty-Jimenez, a coordinator for GEAR-UP.

Spring Valley Assistant Principal Annette Conners-Harris said that she thought a scavenger hunt would be a good way to structure the experience.

To make them think about different career options, students are asked to talk to two representatives from vocational schools.

For the sake of geographical diversity, Spring Valley students will be asked to get signatures from college representatives from four regions of the country -- the East Coast, the West Coast, the South and the Midwest -- and signatures from two Nevada schools.

GEAR-UP is providing students with talking points. To fill in their scavenger hunt questionnaires, students will have to find out about application deadlines, admission requirements and student housing options.

McGinty-Jimenez said that the "fun part" for students will be to fill out as many scavenger hunt information cards as possible to increase their chances at winning movie tickets and other prizes in a drawing.

Spring Valley also is offering drawing prizes such as $10 gift cards from Target and MP3 players, which is ironic considering the school has a strict policy against MP3 players on campus.

"I know," Conners-Harris acknowledged. "We'll probably end up confiscating them."

Contact reporter James Haug at jhaug@reviewjournal.com or 702-374-7917.