A quick field trip to the nearby college for Soldotna Prep students proved to be an eye-opening experience for some ninth graders.
Monday and Tuesday last week students toured Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus to kick off the Career Pathways Program for the school year.
Karen Ruebsamen, Soldotna Prep guidance counselor, previously went on a tour with other counselors in the district. She thought it would be beneficial to take the students on the tour as well not only to show them the campus, but also to get them thinking about post high school graduation plans.
While students might not get the whole potential of what KPC can offer based on the tour, Ruebsamen said they will at least get a taste of what’s available.
“I mean it’s just a gem here on the peninsula, and we want to expose the kids here to what is available in their futures,” she said.
With the JumpsStart program, which allows high school students to take courses at KPC, now open to juniors, within two years Soldotna Prep students could be frequenting the campus.
It’s also part of the transition process from middle school to high school, Ruebsamen said.
“These kids are secondary, their next four years planning is going on, and we see that to be important and we sort of just want to help with the transition into ninth grade with this,” Ruebsamen said.
Throughout the year, Soldotna Prep students will be learning about career exploration through career pathways curriculum, which works with one of the school’s objectives, she said.
“It ties right into our school goal of a four-year plan (for students) and looking at what they want to do after high school,” she said. … “It’s seeing that relevancy between the courses that are available (at KPC) to take and what fits in your four year plan … and your future after that.”
KPC staff guided students through the campus showing off the Career and Technical Education Center with the process simulator and instrumental lab as well as the main academic collection of buildings.
Megan Fenton said she is “artsy” so the opportunities offered in the CTEC building didn’t appeal to her, but the overall tour was interesting.
“It’s given me a lot more options to chose from that I didn’t know were there,” she said.
Fenton said she thinks it’s a good idea for students to start thinking about the future and their career goals as freshmen. She looks to her successful family members that started planning for their futures earlier as a reason for her to consider her options now.
Sarah McConnell said after the tour she is now considering starting her college career at KPC. She hopes to pursue a future as an X-ray technician or a radiologist.
Guides also introduced students to on-campus living with a tour of the Residence Hall, which is housing students for its second school year. Some students said they didn’t know the campus had dorms.
“All the stuff (the dorms) have was surprising,” McConnell said.
Anthony Kitson said he is considering going to KPC for his core classes after he graduates high school.
He has known he wants to be a chiropractor since he was 9 years old. He said it’s important to start thinking about careers early in high school to get a good start toward making good money and having a good life.
After the tours, each group enjoyed a barbecue.
“We’ve started school, and it’s been academics,” Ruebsamen said. “And to have a little bit of a picnic — to have hamburgers and eat ice cream — it’s just to end (the trip) on a fun note.”
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org