By Pixie Sulser
College may still be four or five years away, but students at Olive Peirce Middle School are already thinking ahead and planning for their future.
In the past few years the middle school has built a culture of college and career awareness largely due to the efforts of the school’s National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) led by eighth-grade English language arts teacher Ingrid Forbes. The group’s latest venture was coordinating a schoolwide College Week that included a flag design contest, a college logo scavenger hunt, an invitation for students to make a personal pledge to attend college and the first in a series of planned career lectures.
The goal of College Week was to raise and/or increase an awareness of college.
“The students are at different levels of thinking in regards to their futures, but it’s about helping them to form short-term as well as long-term goals,” said Forbes. “College may not be for everyone, and that is fine, but we want the students to be aware of their choices.”
Several students such as eighth-graders Preston Hockin and Jared Rosas said that College Week helped them realize that there are numerous options available when it comes to choosing a college. Both are interested in possibly attending University of California, Los Angeles.
“College Week made me realize that college is only four years away and that I should begin doing some research about where I would like to go,” commented eighth-grader Zoe Clark.
Fellow eighth-grade student Evan Reichner, who is interested in broadcast journalism, said he sees a college degree as a way for someone to have a better opportunity of getting his or her “dream job.”
Although this is the third annual College Week, each year takes on its own tone. This year’s event started with a University of Olive Peirce flag-making contest. The winning design was created by eighth-grader Jerry Peterson and will be made into an actual flag that will be flown on campus for years to come.
The lunchtime Ping-Pong tournament saw OPMS head of security Marc Boykin issuing a challenge to student champion Cole Muse over the school’s morning broadcast program, OPT (Olive Peirce Today). When Boykin beat Muse, math teacher Shane Helmich challenged Boykin. Once the Ping-Pong paddles were laid to rest, Boykin claimed the title of All Time Champion!
The NJHS also organizes a yearly Career Expo inviting a variety of professionals to share their education and professions with students in small group sessions.
“This year we decided to do something a little different,” said Forbes. “We decided to hold a series of career lectures throughout the spring with the first being showcased as part of our College Week.”
The initial guest career lecturer was Captain Parsons from the Oceanside Fire Department. He encouraged the students to think about what path they will take in their career choice and to explore all aspects of any career to discover the opportunities available to them.
“He discussed the importance of math, critical thinking, test taking skills, reading, writing and physical fitness in his career as a fireman,” shared Forbes. “It was very eye-opening for the students to hear how the things they are doing in the classroom will help them in their future jobs.”