A Message to Students:

Did you know that in high school you will have the opportunity to be in a career-related pathway? Based on your interests, you would be enrolled in classes related to a particular sector, like health, law, teaching, engineering, technical theater, performing arts (choral) or IT.

The school district understands how important it is for our students to be prepared for college and/or a career, and we think that focusing your class work on real world skills and projects is a key part of your education. If you sign up to be in any of our career pathways, you will have an opportunity to get a head start on career exploration, to make and revise your own college and career plan each year, to visit places of employment, to work directly with business partners on school projects, to have a mentor, and to have an opportunity after junior year to work in an internship.


PATHWAY RECRUITMENT

Pathway recruitment is done at both middle schools and in 9th grade classes; some pathways begin in grade 9 and some in grade 10. At De Anza High School, for example, all of the pathways begin in grade 10. In grade 9, students all take a journalism class that devotes some time to exploration of the different pathways. The Arts & Media pathways generally start in grade 10, with a recommendation that students take an art class in grade 9. IT pathways formally start in grade 10, but it is recommended that students begin with a general computer applications or computer science course.

Students may transfer to another high school in the district if they want to be in a pathway that is not offered at the resident high school.  As long as you stay in the pathway and do well, you can remain at the transfer school.


WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE IN A PATHWAY?

Being in a pathway means that you will create and update a college & career plan each year. You will explore various careers in the field online and through “Day in the Life of” videos, and converse with professionals on and off your campus. Students generally go on at least one field trip each semester to tour businesses and do experiential visits. In 11th grade, students meet with mentors several times a year; after their junior year, we focus on getting students summer internships to work on projects using pathway skills. Once in an internship, someone from the district will be checking in to make sure everything is going well and that students are meaningfully engaged.

While in a pathway, you may also visit colleges, with a special focus on majors in their pathway. In grade 11, pathway students create a resume and cover letter to prepare for a career fair, jobs and/or internships. Students also practice their interviewing skills, with help from professionals. Frequently, junior and senior pathway students will receive feedback on their projects by a professional in the field. By senior year, several pathway students will be able to receive college credits from their pathway course. Service learning, a graduation requirement, is focused on a project related to the pathway field of study.


CAN I SWITCH PATHWAYS?

Pathway courses are sequential and students are expected to stay in their pathways until their senior year. If a student finds after sophomore year that the pathway isn’t quite for them, they may transfer out of the pathway, and possibly into another pathway. There is a formal process for this, which involves the student writing a letter to explain their reasoning. This must also be signed by parents or guardians. Then, the releasing pathway lead teacher and the new pathway lead teacher must agree on the switch. Some catch-up work may be required in order for a student to be able to start in a pathway in grade 11.

Please read the following descriptions of each high school’s pathways to determine which pathway is best for you:


De Anza High School Health Academy: The De Anza Health Academy, led by Fatham Riordan-Ng, a former medical professional and healthcare instructor at Heald Business College, prepares students for health careers primarily in the patient care field and emergency medicine, as well as with employment soft skills and early college credit. With a focus on project-based learning and hands-on training in their new mock patient care center on campus, the vision of the De Anza Health Pathway is to provide students with the skills they need to succeed in both their college and career. The academy has a strong partnership with Contra Costa College and also offers students early college credit.

The De Anza Health Academy also specializes in life long medical and preventative care, which makes it truly a unique pathway for its students.


De Anza High School Information Technology Academy: The IT Academy offers students a choice of focus on internet engineering or website design. Students take one course in each, and then decide which to focus on for their senior year. De Anza IT students often take a course in videography as well. Students have had access to a wide variety of job experiences as part of their curriculum or extra-curricular work, both inside the district and for community and business partners. The De Anza High School Information Technology program is run by Ben Gill, who has years of industry experience and has helped hundreds of students join the STEM field.


De Anza High School Law Academy: The De Anza Law Academy prepares students for law-related careers. It focuses on constitutional law, case briefing, and broadly transferable skills in the areas of critical thinking, research, clear writing, citing of evidence, and oral communication and persuasion.

The law academy provides students with training in soft job skills and career and college planning. Its dynamic advisory board provides students with many opportunities to interact with and get feedback from professionals in various fields of law and law enforcement.


El Cerrito High School Information Technology Academy: The El Cerrito Information Technology Academy is a small learning community that prepares students for careers and pursuits in the vast field of technology by building technical skills through project-based learning, collaborative design and production, and interaction with industry professionals.

Students gain proficiency in Adobe software including Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Premiere, 3D modeling with Google Sketchup, HTML, CSS, and WordPress. Students also learn to program in Scratch and Ruby as well as develop experience with computer hardware and networking. Through work-based learning students develop professional skills and a portfolio.


El Cerrito High School Media Academy: In the El Cerrito Media Academy, students become adept in journalistic skills in various media forms, creating media in typographic print, video, photographic, and web-based interactive formats. The Media Academy is focused on developing strong communicative skills in students, preparing them for both the college and career demands of the post-secondary world.


Kennedy High School Information Technology Academy: The Kennedy Information Technology Academy prepares its students simultaneously with web design and information systems design and management skills. Through strong industry and college partnerships, it is able to provide students with career skills and early college credit to prepare students for post-secondary success.


Pinole Valley High School Pacific Choral Academy: The Pacific Choral Academy is focused on a choral progression with a show choir capstone course. Beginning with acapella, students learn to read music and voice control. Through performances and industry partnerships, the academy seeks to empower students with poise, stage presence and professional communication skills. Students learn entrepreneurial skills, project management strategies, and work with professionals in the field. They are booked for performances at various events in the community and state.

Through their core English and History classes, academy students learn how the power of song has been used historically to motivate people to persevere through hardship, as a tool for social transformation movements and also as propaganda and a building a more unified society. It is run by Mark Flanagan, who has many years of experience as an entrepreneur/performer, as well as leader of a renowned show choir that performs annually at Disney World.


The Pinole Valley High School Spartan Academy of Green Engineering: The Pinole Academy of Green Engineering is a group of students interested in experiencing how new technology is designed. Students prepare to address the technological challenges of the 21st century by learning the group design process, orthographic and isometric sketching, coding and constructing VEX robotics, and by learning of and using countless other tools and tests that are employed by many professionals in a wide variety of engineering fields. Students travel to regional high-tech firms to tour their facilities or to shadow engineers at their work. They hear from many more professionals in engineering when they visit the campus and assist and evaluate student capstone projects.  From inter-campus competitions to reaching out to younger students considering joining our academy, engineering is a tight-knit, lively group that loves to learn about the latest gadgets and to step up to our world’s new technological challenges.  It is led by Angela Johnson, who worked in the engineering field before becoming a teacher. Engineering students also have an opportunity to be part of a competitive robotics team after school.


Pinole Valley High School Health Academy: The Pinole Valley Health Academy is led by Will Heyward. It provides students with a foundation in body systems, followed by courses in bio-medical technology and medical interventions. Many students also take a sports medicine elective. They strongly believe in providing students with career related skills in health, as well as soft skills and interactions with professionals through project-based learning. The health academy has a strong partnership with Merritt Medical College, Contra Costa College, health facilities, and medical research companies.


Pinole Valley High School Law & Justice Academy: The Pinole Valley Law & Justice Academy prepares students for various law and law enforcement related careers, with many opportunities to interact with professionals in professional settings. Some students participate in a county-wide mock trial competition, and all students engage in project-based learning. Soft job skills are emphasized through a strong partnership with Junior Achievement, and college success is emphasized as a goal through an opportunity to earn early college credit.  It is led by Patricia Blades, who brings experience from past work as a probation officer to her teaching position. She has been leading the academy for many years, and runs a well-developed program.


Richmond High School Creative & Performing Arts Academy: The Richmond Creative & Performing Arts Academy focuses on the technical aspects of theater such as set design and building, using CAD and an extensive building shop, and lighting and sound. The capstone course is theater production, in which students are immersed in the planning and organizational skills necessary to produce shows utilizing all of the skills in previous coursework. They produce several shows during their senior year, including dance and theater. CAPA valued partners, such as Masquers, provide students with real world experience and interactions that will serve them well in whatever post-secondary endeavors they choose. Students who want to pursue acting and dance are encouraged and supported to do so as an extracurricular activity that is sponsored by CAPA.


Richmond High School Engineering Academy: The Richmond Engineering Academy prepares students for engineering careers beginning with foundational courses in Introduction to Engineering Design (grade 9) and Engineering Principles (grade 10). Then in 11th grade students take Computer Science Software Engineering, and end in 12th grade with Civil Engineering and Architecture. In this way, they arm students with a variety of engineering skills aimed at a broad sector.

Students have the opportunity to use a 3-D printer and a full fabrication lab. The Engineering Academy uses project-based learning and is supported by English and social science teachers who teach writing and history through an engineering lens. The RHS Engineering Academy highly values its engaged partners who help to provide students with industry feedback, interaction, and summer experiences and internships. Engineering students also have an opportunity to be part of a competitive robotics team after school.


Richmond High School Health Academy: The Richmond Public Health Academy gives students a strong medical foundation, beginning in grade 9 with medical biology, moving in grade 10 to a course in public health, and then diving deeper into one aspect of public health, that of mental health and illness and public policy in that area in grade 11. In grade 12, students take two courses for early college credit: an intensive health careers course and life skills course, both of which put students on a trajectory for post-secondary success.

The Richmond High Health Academy provides students with real-life project based learning through community-focused service learning projects, as well as through numerous industry partnerships that enable students to develop professional communication and other career soft skills.


Richmond High School Law Academy: The Richmond Law Academy prepares its students for careers in law and government. It begins by establishing a foundation through an Introduction to Law class that addresses the Bill of Rights and the structure of the various levels of courts. In Grade 10, students learn the fundamentals of proper handling of crime scenes and evidence, as well as crime scene investigation through a course in forensic science. In the upper grades, students proceed to a curriculum more focused on the critical thinking, and persuasive argument and presentation of evidence through mock trials in their courtroom classroom, and case briefing both for criminal trials and appellate trials.

The law academy additionally provides students with training in soft job skills and career and college planning. Its dynamic advisory board provides students with many opportunities to interact with and get feedback from professionals.


Richmond High School Media Academy: The Richmond Multimedia Academy offers students many opportunities beginning with a foundation in learning the skills of creating many types of digital media. It is followed by an advanced photography class so that students become adept at creating images that are well composed for a given purpose. Finally, students in multimedia in 12th grade end with a capstone course in advanced media journalism, where the focus is on sharpening the journalistic and writing skills of students. The vision of the multimedia teachers is that our students leave us well prepared for a variety of media careers and skills that will serve them well in their chosen post-secondary path.