La Habra High School Principal Matt Eeles mentioned the Golden Bell award-winning Heritage Humanities dual pathway program during his school report at the September 14 FJUHSD Board meeting. Dual pathway programs offer students a curriculum that centers around a main area of interest while offering a fully accredited high school graduation. Students who successfully complete the multiple subject area course content qualify to enter the CSU or UC systems as freshman.
Dual pathway programs require an additional student application to join, and each program has different requirements. One of the programs’ strongest benefits is that students may choose a traditional subject class schedule or a more academic intensive (AP) Advanced Placement or (IB) International Baccalaureate class structure and this brings students from both academic tracks into one program. All the programs teach additional organizational and study skills because each one requires additional projects, tests, and coursework. They play a unique role throughout the district for students to gain in-depth knowledge about an area of study, gain scholastic and career ready skills, and share a multi-year environment with a dedicated cohort of students.
Some dual pathway programs, like the LHHS Heritage Humanities, create a school-within-a-school with block class schedules where students have more intensive, longer classes every other day. Some require prequalifying classes that are not officially part of the program but are necessary to join the program later like science, art, and math classes for the FUHS BEAST (Biology, Engineering, Arts, Science, and Technology) program. Some programs are four-year pathways while some only last two years. Students dedicate most of their extracurricular classes to program requirements like the additional engineering classes for SHHS’s EPIC (Engineering Pathways to Innovation and Change) program, but many campus sites still make time for student participation in sports or the arts.
Though some dual pathway programs cross CTE (Career Technical Education) pathways, like SOHS’s Nursing and Medical Fields program, they differ by including courses taught by certificated AP or IB level high school teachers or college professors instead of field-based certified instructors. Students completing college classes at school sites or on college campuses receive college credit tuition-free and transportation (for college classes only) is provided by FJUHSD as needed. Regular education counseling sessions and mentored monitoring make sure the program fits well for students’ academic success. Dual pathway programs offer extracurricular hands-on experiences while providing a rigorous academic curriculum with organizational skills that allow participants a choice between entry level career qualifications or college opportunities upon graduation.
Programs range from the BPHS Early College Program created to support first generation college bound students, LHHS’s Heritage Humanities, and FUHS Speech and Debate that includes participating in The National Speech and Debate Association. These programs all teach skills that serve students well in both university or career pathways. Other programs embrace STE(A)M [Science, Technology, Engineering, (Arts), Mathematics] including SHHS’s EPIC whose students participate in nationwide challenges to solve engineering problems. Both SHHS’s Coding, Gaming, and Video Production and SOHS’s Gaming and Digital Arts programs have elements that guarantee students will have careerready skills right after high school graduation with ever-evolving class offerings. TRHS’s recently added Cyber Security program is so popular that it is now offered inside and outside of Troy Tech, and students participate in national cyber security contests against collegiate level competitors. FUHS’s BEAST program teaches students how to design, build, and create moving creatures and prosthetic masks. This program offers real experience and knowledge that is not easy to obtain outside the actual career field. SOHS’s Nursing and Medical Careers pathway includes Virtual Reality scenarios and a hands-on emergency vehicle class experience. It offers medical assistant experience coupled with a science-based education option that qualifies students to get a job or continue their education at a college.
Interested students need to start researching the various programs in 7th and 8th grade by looking at high school websites, attending January high school site open house presentations and talking to their own school site counselors about applications and information. All FJUHSD students defined as in “good standing” can apply to any of these programs at any campus, but those who do the early work will be able to find the best program fit and find better overall success. Each program has additional application deadlines and requirements. The programs provide another path for greater student school involvement that research proves supports academic success. These programs are special opportunities and with FJUHSD teachers, students, and staff input each year the schools are improving and adding classes that students need for usable career skills and academic accomplishments.
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