Shortly following a regularly scheduled minimum day, over 340 seniors readied themselves with flash cards, PowerPoint presentations and props in order to showcase a 10 to 15 minute demonstration of career outlets and explorations.
A portfolio also had to be handed in as well, complete with an essay, career outlook timeline and a list of references and cover letters.
Although the students have been preparing for their projects throughout the entire year, the speech seemed to be the most daunting task of them all.
“It was nerve racking for me,” said Robert Ekwueme, an 18-year-old student who choose to do his project on how to become a real estate agent. “You don’t know what the judges are thinking and the whole time you are presenting, you just want to pass the 10 minute mark.”
Students who could not present for up to 10 minutes would automatically fail and risk the chance of being unable to obtain their high school diploma. Every student awaiting their turn anxiously stood outside the near empty campus, shaking with nerves.
But fears were soon allayed as soon as the students walked out of the classroom; a severe year-long wait off their shoulders.
Apart from having to present for 10 minutes, three judges made up of community members, leaders and PJUSD staff were present to grade the students based on their overall knowledge and completion of their projects.
Many judges, including first-time judge Martha Pimentel Franco, walked away with a little more knowledge in their pockets after reviewing several successful presentations.
After a brief presentation by 17-year-old Ashley Cosio, a young woman who shadowed local cosmetologist Lisa Bellini of Just Teasin’ salon, Franco said she found “immense joy” in having been a part of the project.
“I feel as though I’m learning just as much as the students are,” said Franco. “I have never done anything like this before, but I feel that it’s an outstanding project.”
What makes the project much more elaborate and delightful is how intricate and hands-on it challenges the students to be compared to state exams.
According to activities director and PHS instructor Season Lozano, the project allows the students a chance to be more than a statistic, often prompting a higher rate of participation, charities and community endeavors within Patterson.
“One of the biggest complaints I’ve had from students about the state tests is that it doesn’t seem to affect them; it affects the schools,” said Lozano. “The students don’t see any benefits of taking those tests. This project allows them to actively choose a career they see themselves doing, and they buy into it because they can utilize those skills for the future. From my experience, it’s been a great program.”
Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24, or email@example.com.