For many high school students, the college-going process may seem quite daunting and overwhelming, especially if students are the first in the family to attend a university. Many high schools in Tucson have a designated space for students to explore their post-secondary opportunities and plan how they will accomplish these goals. This month, Palo Verde High Magnet School reached an exciting, new milestone with the opening of the College and Career Center. What was once a simple vision became reality following winter break, with the support of our incredible school community and amazing AmeriCorps team members.
In December, I spoke with the school counselor and asked if we could create a College and Career Center for our students here at Palo Verde. The counselor showed me this dark, neglected space which had incredible potential. That afternoon, I drafted a proposal for the space, created plans for the designs and layout, and scheduled a meeting with our principal. The next day, we proposed this idea to the principal, received immediate approval, and met with our extraordinary AmeriCorps staff to coordinate the execution of this center through our annual MLK Day of Service and the AmeriCorps NCCC Alpine 7 Team. After winter break, numerous volunteers attended the MLK Day of Service on January 14th. Volunteers gave the space a new look with a fresh coat of paint and organized countless college materials. During the following two weeks, the Alpine 7 team devoted their time to help implement the mural designs and set up this beautiful new space. Finally, we received numerous donations from wonderful partners, such as Dunn Edwards Paint, Fountain of Life, Starbucks, Fry's, and countless universities. This center is truly the perfect example of community in schools. Many student organizations, faculty, staff, custodians, counselors, and administration contributed to making this center a success within several weeks.
On February 2nd, we hosted the Dedication Ceremony of the new College and Career Center, which attracted over 50 attendees including Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, university representatives, district representatives, school administration, faculty, staff, student organizations, and numerous AmeriCorps members and staff. During this ceremony, Mayor Rothschild described the transformation of this space from dark, neglected space he first saw it during the MLK Day of Service. Mayor Rothschild also stated how important this center, the services offered here, and the roles of our Student Ambassadors are in the lives of our students. Ben Olsen, Director of Arizona Serve, echoed this by discussing the success of the Tucson Community Schools Initiative over the past two years at Palo Verde. Finally, Principal Eric Brock discussed the significance of this center for our students and how far Palo Verde has come in recent years, which could not have happened without his outstanding leadership and dedication to our students.
Transformed from a dark, neglected room in Palo Verde’s basement, the new College and Career Center is now a vibrant, welcoming space for students to explore opportunities in higher education, scholarships, financial aid, and employment. On every surface, there is a plethora of information for students to research.
On every wall, there are inspiring graphics for students to envision themselves attending various institutions. In the past few weeks, the center hosted numerous trainings, steering committee and team meetings, university representative visits, partner organizations presentations, and the brand new Career Connections workshop series. Students immediately began using the center to explore their post-graduation opportunities, and seeing their eyes light up as they walk into this rejuvenated space made our team's efforts very rewarding. We are eager to see what the future holds for this center and for our remarkable students as they pursue their dreams.
All the best,