Bighorn News: New programs offer pathways to college

Ben Mikaelsen, award-winning author of Touching Spirit Bear, speaks to Nicole Hyde’s class.

Ben Mikaelsen, award-winning author of Touching Spirit Bear, speaks to Nicole Hyde’s class.

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Oasis Academy College Prep is starting two new programs. Both offer exciting pathways to colleges for our students.
The FIRST Tech Challenge builds on the fantastic FIRST Lego Robotics program started by Kathy Keitz. With FIRST Tech Challenge, Oasis Academy is bringing a robust robotics program to our college prep high school that will compete with many other Nevada teams and prepare our students for some impressive STEAM careers.

Gabriela Hockenberry-Grimes

The FIRST Tech Challenge is an elective class and competitive team. In the FIRST program OACP students will move from building with Lego parts to using and programming robotic components they will encounter in college and the workforce. As we make this program into a competitive team, we will need expert help from parents and the community.
So, if you have a background in engineering, mechanics, or design, we would love to hear from you so we can turn our robotics program into a college springboard for our students.
In order to qualify for this opportunity, Oasis must offer FIRST Tech Challenge as a class. Oasis is currently looking for both a teacher for the class as well as an additional coach.
Video games rapid growth
Video games have evolved rapidly over the last couple of decades. Competitive gaming has become a billion-dollar business and is projected to grow exponentially.
The prevalence of esports in schools is likewise rapidly expanding. Only seven colleges and universities had varsity esports programs in July of 2016. By 2018 there were 63 institutions, and in 2022 over 500 schools. These include Boise State, Texas A&M, and the University of Montana, so we aren't just talking about East Wabash Junior College.

Ben Mikaelsen, left, and Nicole Hyde pose for a photograph.


And the scholarship money is following the trend as well, with over 200 colleges and universities offering $16 million in scholarships in 2019. Esports have become a legitimate pathway to college for many students. We need any parents, guardians, relatives, or anyone who has experience playing competitive esports to help us build this into the premier esports program in Nevada.
If you are interested in either opportunity, please reach out to
Senior Spotlight: Gabriela Hockenberry-Grimes
Being involved and part of a team has created senior Gabriela Hockenberry-Grimes’ favorite memories of her time at Oasis Academy.
“It’s hard to pick one specific memory simply because my time at Oasis has been filled with many. I spent a lot of my high school years playing sports. With that being said, being part of a team Is definitely on the top of my list,” Hockenberry-Grimes said.
This is why being involved is also her advice for future students,.
“My advice for future students; take every opportunity given to you, getting involved in clubs and sports is a great way to put yourself out there and make friends,” she said. “Stay up to date with your work and be sure to enjoy high school.”
The advice is something she has lived by participating in basketball, volleyball, softball, choir, FFA, Student Council and Car Club throughout high school.
After graduating in May, Hockenberry-Grimes will continue her education by studying psychology at the University of Montana Western.
“I started at Oasis Academy in fourth grade,” she said. “Being at Oasis it was easy to make friends and the support from the teachers is incredible. I feel that I thrived in this environment both academically and socially.”
Students often identify a teacher as a mentor and someone that made an impact in their lives. For Hockenberry-Grimes that teacher has served as more than a mentor for her success.
“I would like to thank my dad and Oasis teacher, Eric Grimes for supporting not only me but all the Oasis students. He’s done an exceptional job as a dad and a teacher,” she said. “This is especially true being a teacher during a pandemic! Thank you for everything.”
Award winning author visits class
Ben Mikaelsen, award winning author of Touching Spirit Bear, visited Nicole Hyde’s sixth-grade class last week.
Mikaelsen travels around the world to present a message about bullying. Both sixth grade classes have read the book Touching Spirit Bear for the past five years and the students love it!
“Ben Mikaelsen is the great uncle of Oasis student Jackson Snow. We were honored to hear Mr. Mikaelsen speak about his life and experiences, as well as the challenges of being an author,” Hyde said.
“His generosity in taking time out of his busy schedule and leaving a signed poster and bookmarks for all sixth-graders is much appreciated.”
Mikaelsen spoke to the students about how he got the idea for the book by raising a black bear named Buffy. He showed students several photos of his bear, told stories, and even shared how he traveled to Alaska to get information and take a photo of the Spirit Bear.


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