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Phoenix High students get first-hand look at career options

By: Carol Percy, Reporter
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 Whether they want to be artists or machinists, some local high school students check out an array of career options through field trips to colleges and businesses.

As a part of Phoenix High School’s Career Education program, 10 students visited the California Art Institute Sacramento on Jan. 17.

Many of the students were inspired by the Art Institute’s programs, according to Dan Alcorn, who teaches science and career courses at Phoenix High School.

“It was a super trip. Informative, engaging and the students left thinking more seriously about their next steps beyond Phoenix,” Alcorn said. 

The trip enabled students to see the opportunities available at a smaller specialized school, according to Phoenix High student Andrew Millikan, 18.

“And some of the programs are portfolio-based and one needs to get a portfolio going (in order to apply,)” Millikan added.

Phoenix student Alexis Hernandez-Nunez, 16, said the most interesting detail she learned was that she can take free classes while still in high school.

“I was already interested in the program and this reassured me to go there,” Hernandez-Nunez said.

Phoenix student Emily Morris, 18, agreed that the trip was inspirational.

“I am already inspired to pursue higher education but the Art Institute reinforced that desire,” Morris said. “The AI (Art Institute) has both classroom and online options, as well as a college-bound program that lets me attend a course for free as a high schooler.” Phoenix High student Sara Brewer, 17, was attracted to the size of the Art Institute and its curriculum.

“There are only about 500 students enrolled and the curriculum is market-driven, depending on what the industry needs at that time,” Brewer said.

The school offers a career field trip about every six weeks during the school year, according to Alcorn.  

In recent years, students have visited several post-secondary colleges, the Lincoln Police Department, Lincoln High School’s diesel-training program, the Lincoln Hills’ food service and maintenance departments, Sierra Pacific Lumber, RobbJack’s machine shop, PASCO Scientific and many more, Alcorn said.

The career field trips help students visualize and prepare for the next step of their lives, according to Alcorn.

The biggest benefit is “getting kids to see real world jobs and possible career paths that they hadn't thought of before, especially local opportunities,” Alcorn said. “And hopefully (the trips) generate excitement about future possibilities so the kids get fired up and see a reason to continue schooling and earn at least a high school diploma and probably more.”   

Other Phoenix High employees who accompany the students on field trips are Principal Chuck Whitecotton, secretary Sandra Hackbarth and counselor Wendy Hollis.

Jen Nelson, a Phoenix High English teacher, sometimes assists students in writing about their experience as an essay.

The trips are funded by the Western Placer Education Foundation and a local private donor who “likes Phoenix students to get out and participate in these types of activities,” Alcorn said.