Ocean Lakes High School senior Benjamin Angeles remembers attending the school division’s citywide event for high school academies as an eighth-grader.
“I remember I was a shy, little kid and I remember seeing all these awesome seniors and high schoolers. I thought, ‘I want to be that.’”
He even remembers receiving a green dolphin pin that he has kept to this day and described the evening event as a “small catalyst in my journey in becoming who I am today.”
“Eighth-grade me couldn’t have imagined standing here talking to you. It’s amazing how Ocean Lakes has helped me,” Angeles reflected.
Supporting the educational journey of all students throughout each of their years in school is just one reason the division expanded its annual Academies and Advanced Academic Programs Night to a new event entitled “Navigating the Journey.” Held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, it still featured high school programs and specialty centers along with more than 40 additional exhibits to showcase all the programs, resources and services available to students in grades preK through 12.
“It’s an opportunity to show parents and students every single thing we have to offer,” said Dr. James Pohl, executive director for secondary teaching and learning. “I think Virginia Beach has more than what most people know and this is an opportunity for us to really springboard from the success of Academy Night to something that encompasses everything preK-12 that we offer.”
Navigating the Journey attendees spoke with students, teachers and administrators at exhibits that lined the first floor of the convention center and wound through two ballrooms. From prekindergarten and elementary school counseling to NJROTC and dual enrollment courses, information from all school levels was featured. The event also included 25-minute breakout sessions covering topics from high school academies to the transition through middle school.
Administrators from Bayside Middle School and Bayside Sixth Grade Campus brought dozens of their students to the event.
Leilani May and Tyonna Joyner were two Bayside Middle seventh-graders who were eager to talk about their options for high school.
“I’m interested in performance art and technology,” said May. “I’m a singer and dancer, and I know how to program phones and TVs.”
What about becoming a singing and dancing computer programmer?
“That might be cool,” she laughed.
“I like the health place where you become a doctor. Which one was that?” Joyner asked.
“Health Sciences Academy,” replied May.
“Yes, the Health Sciences Academy,” said Joyner. “I’m interested in that. I want to be a family doctor.”
Nearby, Kellam High School senior Darius Aldridge distributed brochures to passersby for the Technical Career and Education Center where he is in the landscape design/turf management program.
“The Tech Center is a great choice because we have so many different programs. You get certifications, training; it’s fun and educational,” he explained.
“I like landscape management because you get to work with tools and work with your hands,” Aldridge added. “It isn’t something I’ve always known I wanted to do, but I started the program and really liked it. I just love plants and trees. I want to be a horticulturalist.”
Exploring new opportunities and considering multiple pathways is one takeaway Navigating the Journey organizers hoped attendees would gain from the event.
“I hope parents and students take away several opportunities and questions to ask their school counselors about programs, multiple pathways and academic and career planning,” Pohl said.
Angeles knows his career plans thanks to his senior mentorship experience in the Mathematics and Science Academy. He worked with a biomedical engineer in a lab in New York City.
“After that experience in the lab and seeing what she did as a researcher, I said, ‘This is what I need to do. This is what I want to do.’”
To see more photos from Navigating the Journey, visit the VBSchools Facebook page.