The strains of heart-pumping music could be heard long before the Multi-Purpose Center at Otay Ranch High came into view as the 3rd Annual Project E.N.C.O.R.E. Expo took place earlier this month. The professional DJ updated the participants about the career and college booths and kept them moving through the break-out sessions.
Project E.N.C.O.R.E., designed and implemented by the district’s School-to-Career office, brings together 1,000 seniors from throughout the Sweetwater District to get motivated and focus on their future before “senioritis” can sink its teeth into these unsuspecting students. A morning and an afternoon session served 500 students each.
Doug Luffborough of the Turning the Hearts Center served a second year as keynote speaker. Luffborough has worked with Sweetwater students for years, teaching them how to reach their potentialand beyond.
After getting an invigorating dose of inspiration, students headed out to network with employers and educators. Students attended 15-minute mini-sessions on topics ranging from armed forces opportunities to careers that award both salaries and college credits. In between these break-out sessions, students visited with representatives from community colleges, universities, armed services branches and employers. From traditional educational pathways to those that are off the beaten path, there was something for everyone.
Hector Martinez, a senior at Bonita Vista High, was intrigued by sessions that focused on how to get a job with a great future.
“And I liked learning about what employers are looking for,” Martinez said. His interests for post-secondary opportunities include the San Diego Culinary Institute or engineering.
And he wasn’t the only Expo attendee who left that day with expanded horizons, thinking about what the future might hold. Students everywhere were busily copying down phone numbers, collecting business cards and pamphlets about potential program choices.
“This is so much more than a job fair,” commented Sweetwater Board President Jim Cartmill, a past E.N.C.O.R.E. speaker. “These students get to learn from those who’ve really made a difference in their own lives, and in the lives of hundreds, even thousands, of teens. And they leave here with a sense of possibility and hope.”