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Expo offers junior high students look into future choices
Turlock High's Colby McCann of the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp demonstrates a paper rocket launcher at Turlock Junior High on Thursday. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

Lunchtime at Turlock Junior High School on Thursday was more than a reprieve from the classroom for a quick bite to eat, as it was also a chance for students to consider their future in a fun and interactive environment at the Gifted and Talented Education Club College and Career Expo.

For the past eight years, GATE Club advisor Denise Nulph has helped facilitate the expo as a way to increase exposure and awareness of college opportunities and career paths to students before they enter high school. The event is an opportunity for GATE students to hone their research and presentation skills by selecting one university on which to present and preparing information, visuals and even an interactive game. These students then set up a booth during both 7th and 8th grade lunches alongside booths from local schools and businesses to offer their peers an opportunity to learn about life after high school.

"This is also a great thing for them to practice leadership skills," said Nulph. "The GATE students have been working on this since January, researching colleges and writing them persuasive letters about the event and some even responded sending banners, pencils and t-shirts for example."

Students used gear from the college that they researched to decorate their booth and were resourceful in selecting which university to represent. One group chose to research Georgia Southern University, because their favorite country singer Luke Bryan attended there, and accompanied their informational stand with the Southern game of Corn Hole which had a long line of eager participants. Other GATE students selected West London University to provide their peers a unique look at post secondary education outside of the country.

"We're all music students and we wanted to pick a school where music was important. We also wanted to explore other cultures and what they do to show other students that they can go to an international university, too," said seventh grade student Anna Kern.

The first three years into high school before applying to college can slip away quickly, so the expo provides students a peek into the world after high school without the pressure of making a decision that they often feel when applying for schools. Other clubs and organizations, such as the Turlock High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, were present to expose junior high students to potential extracurricular activities upon entering high school.

"It is kids teaching kids and that’s great," said Major Kelly Cross of the THS NJROTC. Cross hopes to establish a junior high level transition program for NJROTC  in the future.

Along with THS NJROTC, Modesto Junior College, California State University, Stanislaus, BBVA Compass Bank, Turlock Irrigation District, the City of Turlock Recreation Department, Turlock Fire Department and more were present offering students information.