Mario Time! Pathways showcase held for 6th graders

The Porterville Fairgrounds Expo Building held a glimpse of what the future could hold for local sixth graders as they attended the 2024 Porterville Unified School District Pathways Exhibition on Thursday. More than 1,000 students visited the annual exhibition which aims to expose students to various career paths and industries early in their educational journeys.

More than 20 elementary schools and just under 1,400 6th graders participated in the student-led Super Mario themed exhibit. Thursday’s event was the 12th annual sixth grade Pathways exhibit hosted by PUSD.

“We have 14 pathways spread across our six high schools in Porterville Unified School District, and all 14 pathways are here,” said Erik Santos, PUSD Pathways Learning Director. “The beauty of the booths is that they are run by the pathway high school students. Their teachers are here to chaperone and to kind of assist if needed, but for the most part, the teachers have stepped back and let the students run the show.”

After receiving a brief lecture about how the exhibit works, students were let loose to roam around the Fairgrounds Expo Building where booths showcased each of the pathways with hands-on activities. Students from each of PUSD’s high schools eagerly manned the booths ready to answer any questions that may come their way. 

The younger visiting students immediately drifted to the booths that piqued their personal interests. Granite Hills High School’s Computer Operations and Development Education (CODE) booth, lined with computers displaying basic video games, was a seemingly popular booth for those who thought creating the game’s coding would be an interesting career. The Porterville Military Academy’s Academy of Aviation and Leadership booth allowed the 6th graders to test their pilot skills with flight-simulating technology.

“The significance of today's event is it gives our students in sixth grade the chance to see all 14 pathways in one shot,” said Santos. “Every booth has interactive projects so students can get to know the pathway a little bit better and maybe see a couple of different career industries that they haven't seen before up until this point in their life. The engagement part is what makes it fun for students, being able to not just hear about it but do something in that particular field. That's what really makes it a fun day for our sixth grade students.”

Organizing an event for a large amount of students was an undertaking in itself, requiring coordination between the district, the high schools for student and teacher representatives, and the elementary schools. All of that work pays off when the faces of the sixth graders light up and they find a potential Pathway that could lead them to a successful and fulfilling career.

“I think when you see students smiling, talking about different pathways or different careers that they're interested in, and the high level, high skilled, high wage jobs, in their sixth grade year, that speaks to the success of our pathways and it speaks to the success of the event…When you see the students engaged, and having fun at the same time as learning, that's what we would call a success,” Santos said.

For more information on each of PUSD’s 14 available pathways visit Source: Porterville Recorder