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Carving out their Futures


The month of October brought a swell of college and career events to middle and high schools. Workshops, fairs, and virtual tours of campuses were among the many events to inspire JUSD students. And for those who had not thought seriously about their future before, these events were especially helpful.

military and firefighter pumpkins“Honestly, before this event, I wasn’t thinking of going to college at all,” said Shanel Golmez, who attended Nueva Vista High School’s college and career fair during lunch. Now, the senior is seriously considering automotive classes at Riverside City College.

While it may not be surprising to learn that college and career readiness is an integral part of the middle and high school experience, it is also a factor for the youngest of JUSD students.  Elementary schools hosted their own college and career activities, including a unique project that combined college and career readiness with a celebration of the fall season: pumpkin decorating.

Students from kindergarten through sixth grade decorated and carved pumpkins to represent their college or career goals. At Granite Hill and Indian Hills, pumpkins were displayed in the library. At West Riverside, they were placed outside of classrooms for the school’s annual “Pumpkins on Parade” event, as classes took turns walking the campus to view the festive gourds. 

unicorn pumpkin
“Pumpkins on Parade is a great event for our students because it gets them thinking about colleges and career choices that are available for them,” shared Tara LeQuire, Teacher on Special Assignment at West Riverside. “It gets them forward-thinking about what their future’s going to be and what we’re doing here, in school, and how that’s all going to lead up to where they want to be one day.”

While health care workers, first responders, and teachers made up the majority of careers displayed, students found unique ways to represent them. Mia, a kindergarten student at Indian Hills, decorated her pumpkin as a unicorn because, as a teacher, she wants to “help others find their magic and share [their] shine.”

Careers in the arts were also featured, with students aspiring to be artists, singers, photographers, and actors. Analiese, a kindergartener at West Riverside, even donned an apron splattered with paint so she could match her artist-themed pumpkin. 

Mia with her artist pumpkin
Though pumpkins were displayed at school, much of the decorating took place at home as a collaborative bonding activity between students and their parents. 

“[This] gets students to start thinking about what they want to do, and this is the perfect time for parents to have that conversation with their students,” said Victoria Jobe, principal of Indian Hills.

Elementary students have many years before they commit to a college or career, but it is never too early to encourage their dreams. 

“I hope that they learn that their future is so bright,” said Beatriz Farone, Teacher on Special Assignment at Granite Hill. “That they have so much ahead of them and that it’s not just this week. That the thought is there in their head every day. Every day they wake up maybe with a new idea [for what they want to be].”