Hart Ransom puts eighth-graders on interview hot seat

04/10/2014 8:45 PM

04/10/2014 10:02 PM

Plans for the future in junior high usually reach no further than next weekend, but Hart-Ransom School challenges its eighth-graders to look into jobs and college options, and puts them through a gentle version of an oral board.

“At the end of eighth grade, high school is right there. We want kids to take every opportunity, we want them to hit the ground running,” said Rich Chandler, who with fellow teachers Sarah Rice and Brian Martins organized the College and Career Day held Wednesday.

“The knowledge of what they want to do in the future helps. High school is (only) four years long,” Rice said.

“It’s three weeks of (student) work,” Chandler said, including writing business letters and a college application essay, drawing up a résumé and filling out a job application. “We’re aligning it to the Common Core by using those real-life documents and discussions,” he said.

Dozens of eighth-graders – boys mostly in suits and ties; girls mostly in dresses, some tottering on high heels – walked into the gym, folders of their work in hand Wednesday. They sat nervously around tables manned by parents and school officials, answering questions and sometimes getting a bit of advice along the way.

Go to college first if you’re going, dad Frank Murillo told a future police officer and/or lawyer. It gets harder to fit classes around a rotating work schedule and other demands on your time.

Interested in a photography career? Get involved in school photo projects such as the yearbook or the newspaper, another interviewer advised a budding artist.

Dressed in a sharp black business suit, Meadow Hansen had her college picked out: Harvard. She had researched the school down to its housing options for sophomores. “It has so many opportunities,” Meadow told her interviewer.

Katie Henriques, at the same table, decided on Michigan State University for its well-known school of criminology. Victoria Ramirez said she hopes to go to UC Santa Barbara, from which a family member graduated.

Besides college and career questions, students were asked how they define success, and what would they do differently if they could do junior high over.

That last question, put to students at her table by Principal Jerrianna Boer, brought some quiet smiles as they knew she knew what they could have done better.

“I would not get in trouble,” Rene Mendoza said with a rueful grin. “I’d study longer, get better grades to have more electives in high school.”

A tendency to blurt out things caused some problems for Jack Shaw. “I would think more before speaking,” Jack told her.

“Don’t procrastinate,” said Sabrina Murillo with a sigh.

“I would have changed my study habits,” Katie Nielsen said. She would have hit the books earlier and stayed with it longer. “I’d know the answers right off,” she said.

The reflection as much as the plan showed lessons learned by next year’s freshmen, mostly heading to Gregori and Modesto high schools.

“We want them a step ahead entering high school. Get them to get out there and ask questions,” Martins said. “College is possible for anybody, as long as you have that mindset. It’s up to them. We’ve given (them) the tools.”

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