By MATTHEW SARR firstname.lastname@example.org | Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 6:00 am
Porterville area high school seniors visit several seminars and workshops Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017 at the annual High School Senior Day at Porterville College.
Event attended by 1,500 area students
Porterville College faculty and staff rolled out the red carpet and opened their doors as almost 1,500 seniors from Porterville area high schools gathered at the campus on Wednesday for the 12th annual High School Senior Day. The purpose of the event is to encourage graduating seniors to explore options in higher education by promoting the college’s programs and activities.
“We want students to know that PC is a good stop for them,” said Bill Henry, Porterville College interim president. “Whatever their goals are, they can reach them by starting here. It keeps kids close to home, and it’s very affordable. If they want job skills, we offer it. If they want to transfer [to a four-year university], we offer it. All they have to do is let us know what they want to do.”
Henry was one of several speakers to address the students in the gymnasium during the welcome ceremony, which was emceed by Jim Carson, PC faculty member. Current PC students Illi Castillo and Connor Carson also spoke briefly to students about their experiences at the college.
The featured speaker for the day was Gabe Salazar, who is nationally-recognized for his work with youth. His charisma was on display as he spoke to a packed gymnasium about choices and consequences, and encouraged the group to avoid pitfalls such as drugs, alcohol and school violence while pursuing their dreams.
After the welcome, students were free to visit the booths and seminars that most interested them. The 23 booths in the campus quad provided information about financial aid and student services, as well as PC’s other programs, clubs and activities.
The 15 seminars showcased the different areas of study offered by the college, and were led by PC faculty members and department heads. Staff from the area high school also encouraged their students to become active participants in the event and learn as much as possible about what the college has to offer.
“Students sometimes have a misconception that this campus is just an extension of high school,” said Steven Herrera, PC graduate and current teacher at Monache High School. He was one of several MHS staff members supervising their 400 seniors attending the event. “Hopefully they will see that there are programs here that might interest them.”
During the seminars, PC faculty explained how the various programs prepare students for the workforce, and incorporated stories from their own life experiences to make a compelling case for the value of education.
“In college I delivered spas for a living that were 700 pounds apiece. That’s why my back kills me every day. I would have loved to have had the foresight to have a degree in IT or business so I could have worked inside and made better money,” said Jim Carson during his seminar entitled “Tech Careers = BIG $$$.”
The seminars covered more than just academics. The “OMG College!” seminar focused on general tips about making the transition from high school to college, as well as advice about taking the first steps into adulthood.
“College means more flexibility and freedom, but it’s also more responsibility for you,” said PC counselor Maria Roman as she addressed about 50 seniors. “No one’s going to be after you about going to class and doing your homework. It’s on you to buy your own books, provide your own transportation, even cook your own meals.”
With seminar names like “It’s Not Rocket Science” by science chair Joel Wiens and “How to Speak Gooder” by James Compton from the PC communications department, the staff demonstrated to the seniors what PC is all about while putting smiles on their faces.
Representatives from local agencies also assisted in explaining the college’s career and technical education programs. Members of the Porterville Police Department and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office were on hand for the “Criminal Minds” seminar, which focused on PC’s police academy program, and eight cadets and a fire trailer will be in attendance to promote the “Careers in Fire Services” seminar. Both seminars were well-attended by students.
After the seminars, the students re-convened in the gymnasium for the most exciting moment of the day — students who attended three different seminars qualified for the chance to win one of ten prizes, seven of which were laptop computers.
The High School Senior Day has grown in popularity and attendance since its inception 12 years ago, and Henry applauded the effort of his staff to get involved with the event and give visiting seniors a brief but comprehensive glimpse of what PC has to offer.
“This is great for the community because we are getting kids to our campus that have never been here before,” said Henry. “This event in 12 years has gone from a career tech event to a campus-wide event. Every division is involved, faculty and students are setting up tables, and that makes for a great event for everybody.”