It’s fair to say that during the teen years, nothing stays the same, from growing feet and deepening voices to sleep patterns and driving cars. While responsibility and independence are the goals, a few hurdles have to be crossed before these young ducklings are ready to walk the stage and leave the nest.
One of the first hurdles on that road occurs when students enter high school. Every eighth grader in the state of Texas must choose a pathway or endorsement before registering for high school. While it almost feels like declaring a major for college, choosing a pathway for high school doesn’t necessarily mean a lifetime commitment. It is meant to help students focus on an area of interest. The pathways include the following areas: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); Business and Industry; Public Service; Arts and Humanities; and Multi-Disciplinary Studies.
Parents and students are often surprised by this requirement and may feel a little overwhelmed by the options.
Understanding these emotions, the Comal Independent School District hosts a series of #plan4myfuture nights at each of its high schools, giving students and parents the opportunity to better understand the process of registering for high school, choosing a pathway and seeing what high school is really like.
“The purpose of these nights is to give the eighth graders an introduction to the courses and offerings that are available when they get to high school,” says Renee Martinez, CISD’s director of College Career Military Readiness program, “and they also have the opportunity to visit some of those programs and career pathways through the displays that teachers set up that night.”
The Canyon High School Cougars, the Canyon Lake High School Hawks, the Smithson Valley High School Rangers and the Memorial Early College High School Eagles, recently welcomed eighth graders and their parents to experience what high school is about featuring student organizations, fine arts, athletics, advanced placement, core classes, career and technology courses and more. The CHS night was Jan. 28; CLHS night was Jan. 30; SVHS night was Feb. 4; and MECHS night was Feb. 6.
Each #plan4myfuture night kicks off with a student-led welcoming committee featuring cheerleaders, JROTC members, dance team members, school counselors, administrators, teachers and more. Students and parents leave with a better understanding of what the high school offers as well as the opportunity to just walk the hallways.
Maybe the best part of the night, however, comes with the chance for students to talk to older students about their experience in high school and in a particular class or organization. For example, Kennedy Day, an eighth grade parent, said she and her son, Brandon, were excited to speak with the SVHS theatre teachers and students.
“They were very helpful,” Day said. “They were able to tell Brandon what to expect from theatre for the next four years.”
The final step for incoming freshmen occurs when high school counselors spend a few days on each middle school campus to help register them for their classes.