STAR Power: Open House for STARBASE Porterville held

On Friday there was an official open house for the Department of Defense STARBASE program at Porterville Military Academy with many guests attending.

Zach Bomba representing California Congressman David Valadao's office, State Senator Shannon Grove, Tulare County Office of Education Superintendent Tim Hire, and City of Porterville Mayor Martha A. Flores were present along with Porterville Unified School District Board President Lillian Durbin, Superintendent Nate Nelson, former PUSD Superintendent John Snavely, Porterville Council members Donald Weyhrauch, Raymond Beltran, and Greg Meister, and other PUSD Board members, Pathways administrators and many other dignitaries.

The director of STARBASE Porterville, is Captain Rene J. Martin, from the California Military Department. He greeted everyone and thanked them for being at STARBASE and playing a pivotal role as leaders, teachers, and innovators establishing STARBASE in this location. Martin then introduced Major General Matthew P. Beevers, and Durbin who spoke about STARBASE after the national anthem and invocation.

Beevers greeted Flores, Nelson, Bomba and a representative from Mathis office, and said there was "a great team here from the STARBASE program and the folks who came from TCOE, and everyone else. I'm grateful and humble for the opportunity to stand up and introduce this program, which is the fifth program across this state. It gives us an opportunity to give back to the communities that have given us so much. It enables us to recognize the department's commitment to the important work we do with science, technology, arts, architecture and math because that is foundational to good governance and society's future. 

“And in giving back so young people can have the fundamental magic of science, technology, Engineering, Architecture, Art and Mathematics. It is a solemn responsibility to help and enable young people to grow in this program.”

Bomba presented a trophy of appreciation to students from Belleview School who demonstrated their projects during the STARBASE ceremony. Valadao advocates for the STARBASE program, said Martin.

Durbin turned and spoke to Beevers, and thanked him. She said, "This is a dream come true.”

She spoke about PUSD board members Pete Lara and Donna Berry, who were there, and said, "they are on our team, and they have the vision. But the person who had this dream and promoted this vision, and saw that it was carried on, was Dr. John Snavely. 

“And then I can turn to our current Superintendent, what an awesome job. Just more work than you can ever believe. All the effort and what we do for our students. 

“The results, the mission, and our strategic plan. On each part, we had our school personnel wanting to share in all the stages of this opportunity. We had the military officials, our government officials, our city officials, And everyone has bought into this plan, and this mission. Our Superintendent of Finance Dr. Brad Rohrbach did an amazing job, cutting red tape, and any colored tape you had to cut through to make sure to get all the supplied material and wherewithal to get this complete.”

Durbin said PUSD staff were present through winter break to complete the project. “They were here because they wanted our first elementary class to go through the STARBASE program, to have it as perfect as it could get.”

She said the staff were all working, and not getting paid, to make sure it was complete. She said the PMA cadets went in and practiced and the first class went in so they could get as rich an experience as any other. “That type of collaboration is just awesome,” Durbin said.

In an aside, she spoke of seeing cadets running in the rain last week during the storms, and said basically, the mix of military leadership, and education together will change lives.

STARBASE is an educational program sponsored by the Department of Defense, where students participate in challenging hands-on, minds-on STEAM activities, while interacting with military personnel. 

After the speeches all the guests went on tours of the STARBASE classrooms that included a computer design lab, where students were using computer programs, a chemistry lab where they were making simple experiments and learning about temperature and basic chemical interactions, and an engineering lab where students were learning how to code, using metric measurements, math, and aspects of engineering.

Erik Santos of PUSD Pathways said, "STARBASE is another great opportunity for Porterville area students to get exposure to career fields and hopefully lead them to a Pathway in high school. This is an amazing STEAM Lab and we are excited for our students to visit."

The STARBASE classrooms were recently completed in time for the open house, and were extremely impressive, providing a wonderful beginning of an exciting phase for Porterville, PUSD, Tulare County and the state. Source: Porterville Recorder