By Brianna Williams & Jalyn Jefferson
Now that freshmen are in their second semester of the 2019-2020 school year, they have a very important decision to make this semester: freshmen will have to pick the academy they would like to be in for the rest of their high-school years.
During this process, students get to pick from five different academies that help and provide them with tools based on the career path the academy pertains to. There is ESA, PHA, PLTW, LSJ, and VAAMP. All freshmen went to an assembly on Jan. 15 to get information on the options they have and to learn the placement process, then made their ranked pathway selections at the Jan. 29 pathway fair.
Students and staff of OHS have strong opinions about this critical decision students are forced to make.
Some students feel like this is a great opportunity because they know what they want to major in. Those students have their careers and future plans already mapped out in their head, so making this choice really is a no-brainer.
“I’m probably gonna pick LSJ,” said freshman Panther Donye Holden. “It is gonna help me pursue what I want to do in life.”
Some students don’t care that much about the pathway choice, either because they dislike school, don’t want to go into a certain pathway, or have influence from other students who already did the process.
“I wanna go to VAAMP because my brother told me it was the easiest pathway,” said Tiger freshman Shania Medrano. “School is just dumb, you don’t go to school for yourself. You go to learn, to be able to make money by working for someone else.”
But others feel like choosing pathways is a bad idea that rushes kids into choosing a career for the rest of their life.
“The pathway fair benefits students in many ways,” said PLTW and Puma English teacher Amy Benner. “But some of my students feel like it makes them have to choose a career path early when they don’t have to. They should follow their interest, but not have to stay in that particular career.”
In the event that a student doesn’t like their pathway or they feel that it’s not a good fit for them there is a long process students can go through at the end of sophomore year if they want to switch pathways. First they have to write an essay for why they want to switch, then they have to meet with both their current teachers in their pathway and the teachers in the pathway they want to switch to. From there, the new pathway has to decide if they want to accept the student or not. Any student who transfers has to make up all the pathway-specific classes and work they missed in their sophomore year.
This is part of the reason why students feel pressured to make the right decision. The students who are no longer freshmen and already went through this process understand this.
“I felt nervous, not sure if I’m going to pick the right one,” said PHA sophomore Passion Daniels, who chose PHA as her first choice and is pleased with the decision. “You get to work on what you want to do in the future.”
We are conflicted on whether this is beneficial or not.
Bri feels that from her personal experience, the process was actually quite helpful and she didn’t feel pressured at all. She went to all the meetings, even the ones at night. And she went to the pathway fair and it helped her out so much. She learned what each individual pathway had to offer and in the end she chose VAAMP, a pathway that she thought would guide and open resources for her when she graduates.
But Jalyn believes that she already knew what she wanted to do, so it really wasn’t that hard to decide what she wanted to pick. She didn’t go to the pathway fair, but she already had been informed about the process of the pathways. She believes that the pathway she chose, also VAAMP, was the right choice for the career field she wants to pursue.
“Choose wisely and take time when deciding what you want to do in the future,” said Daniels.