With a record number of incoming seniors at The Dalles High School signing up for the ASPIRE program, officials are hoping to recruit more volunteers to help students access education and training beyond high school.

As of Monday, ASPIRE Coordinator Elaine Powrie said 48 students have signed up to the ASPIRE program, vastly higher than the 15 that were signed up at the same point last year.

Volunteers are trained and the hours are flexible: they can choose how often they want to volunteer. The typical amount is about one hour a week, she said, though it varies by time of year and how many students the volunteer chooses to mentor. Some mentor one, others mentor six or seven.

The students and volunteers meet in the ASPIRE room, which is next to the career center at the high school.

To volunteer, contact Powrie at 541-506-3400 x. 2122 or powriee@nwasco.k12.or.us.

The school has 19 volunteers now, slightly down from the 23 last year. The volunteers who left didn’t have negative experiences, they just had other obligations, Powrie said.

Volunteers help students with career exploration, college applications, financial aid and scholarships.

“We train them so they don’t have to come in knowing literally anything about college admissions and financial aid. We completely train them and support them,” Powrie said.

About half of students in the ASPIRE Program go on to four-year colleges and most of the rest go to community college. But there is a big push for students entering the trades, and if a student is interested in the military, volunteers guide them on how to pursue that path, she said.

“Whatever their interests are we help them figure it out how to get there,” she said.

Some volunteers are retirees but others are recent college graduates who have moved back home and want to contribute to the community, Powrie said.

Parents are also encouraged to become ASPIRE volunteers, since they can get the inside track on college information, learn ways to save their student money, and help kids find and fund their college dreams.

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