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PAISD looks to students’ future

Port Arthur ISD and the Port Arthur Industrial Group (PAIG) held their third annual Curriculum Night at Memorial High School on Tuesday. It brought professional guests together with parents and students to talk about what comes after high school.

The event started at 5 p.m. with a tour of the Career and Technical Educational (CATE) Center and then an informative program at 5:30 at the Memorial Auditorium given by faculty and education professionals. At 6:30, breakout sessions were given for each school body in attendance: Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson Middle Schools, and Memorial High School and 9th Grade Academy.

“We had approximately 200 in attendance,” Robin Arecenaux-Beaty, chief education reform academic officer for PAISD and event coordinator, said. “We’re always looking to enhance and get better. This brought all four secondary campuses together.”

Students and family had the opportunity to learn about such topics as college preparation, job interviewing, STAAR strategies and parental involvement.

“It was a review of what we offer in terms of the curriculum for our school district, paralleled and reviewed with the needs of the Industrial Group,” Dr. Glenn Mitchell, principal of Memorial, said. “It’s motivational and supportive of their efforts.”

Mitchell said it was an opportunity for the school district and PAIG to collaborate and see how both sides work to prepare students.

When asked if he felt that the Curriculum Night achieved its goal of helping inform students for life after graduation, Mitchell responded, “Absolutely.”

“We were looking at having younger kids begin the explanatory nature of what might be possible for them,” he said.

Mitchell said the night held important job-sharing information for students and for their families from the four secondary school campuses of Port Arthur.

“Karla Jasen from Austin was an (Workforce Commission) education specialist who spoke with us about what the job market looked like and talked about how youngsters could get involved with what they’re interested in,” Mitchell said.

“She did a wonderful PowerPoint on careers and how students should interview for jobs,” Arceneaux-Beaty said of Jasen’s presentation.

The 5:30 program featured such notable speakers as Mitchell, PAISD superintendent Mark Porterie, assistant superintendent of secondary schools Melvin Getwood and CATE coordinator Raymond Polk.

“We also had a virtual tour slideshow given by our CATE coordinator, and it was wonderful,” Arceneaux-Beaty said. “Each section had students give an overview of their areas of expertise.”

For the breakout sessions from 6:30 to 7:30, the four school bodies were separated: Lincoln and TJ Middle Schools went to the auxiliary gym; Memorial 9th Grade Academy and High School went to the commons area and auditorium respectively.

“Each group had their thing for the night,” Arceneaux-Beaty said.

“The High School had the English department give a presentation with their students, ‘A Night in Paris.’ And when you talk about improving English 1 and 2 scores, it was to highlight what the department did at Memorial.”

Parental involvement, STAAR strategies and career course and career planning were covered in the other buildings.

“The middle schools worked together, and their (program) was designed for college readiness — to discuss instructional rigor and STAAR,” Arceneaux-Beaty said.

She said PAIG paid for refreshments at the end of the school event.

“It was really, really nice,” Arceneaux-Beaty said. “Parents could pick them up after leaving.”

Gift cards were also given out to five parents per school campus.

When asked if he saw more students pursuing higher education as a result of these types of events, Mitchell responded, “I noticed a youngster at church who was hired by Motiva. He graduated from Memorial a year ago and went through the Lamar instrument program and was hired by the refinery.”