WHSAD Senior, Chandler McLaurin, conducted all interviews and wrote this article with contributions from seniors, Jonah Vazquez and Jared Ramirez.
Creative Connections is an amazing program WHSAD has enrolled students in since sophomore year. In this program we learn about many different tools that will help us not only in school but also in life. For starters, we have had a mentor come in every Thursday and teach weekly lessons for the whole school year. During these sessions we go over applying to colleges, how to seek out scholarships and financial aid, and how to thrive in life after attending high school and college.
In the school, we have many dedicated mentors and community school directors who are in charge of running this magnificent program. One mentor who expressed their interest and love for this program is Ms. Naliaka who said “Working with the students 9th through 12th grade has been tremendous. Students have the opportunity to learn about programs both in their school and outside of school that they can join. The biggest help I believe are the one-on-ones with the Seniors. Students who need guidance with the application process are able to work specifically with a Creative Connections coach to get all their questions answered and submit paperwork dealing with applications, scholarships, and financial aid.”
Ms. Naliaka is not the only mentor who feels this way about this college career enhancement program. Mr. Auffery, who is the Creative Connections Community School Director for WHSAD, is really passionate about Creative connections. He says, “Working with WHSAD students has inspired me to continue to work on my own goals in life, and seek out creative ways to support students on a daily basis. It’s been a joy since day one.” I asked him further questions like would he recommend this program to any other school? He responded by saying “Absolutely, Creative Connections helps you start thinking about futures and goals during high school and after. I have worked with Creative Connections in eight other middle and high schools and it’s a positive experience.” I also asked how has Creative Connections helped the students here in WHSAD? He answered by stating “In our weekly classes, students participate in WHSAD learning opportunities that will boost their college career readiness. The mentors who work with this college career program ensure that we all are prepared when we get out of high school. They are passionate about their jobs they do on a daily basis.
It’s not just the mentors who are really passionate. WHSAD students have really come to love this program as it has had a major impact on their lives. Jonah Vasquez, a WHSAD Senior, states, “Without the proper guidance, the process of applying to college becomes a much more tedious and dreaded process, even more so for first generation students. Thankfully, Creative Connections has partnered with WHSAD to educate its students further on what college means for us as leaders of tomorrow. Mr. Bassit is one of the many people made available to us for help. From weekly class meetings on Friday, to pull-outs from class, Mr. Bassit and his peers ensure that we are prepared throughout the process. He constantly provides us with scholarship opportunities, statistics from colleges, and friendly advice as we get closer to the application deadlines.
Another mentor who demonstrates these same traits is Mr. Bassit, who works with Juniors and Seniors especially because it’s the transitional years for these specific students in the school. I asked him do you enjoy your time working with students enrolled in this program? He answered, “Heck yeah, it’s the best part of the job. I get to work with the students and bring them to the next level and help them out by looking for scholarships, applying to colleges and for financial aid.” Another mentor who has been extremely involved is Amanda Saechao who has said, “Having a well rounded, diverse and exciting educational experience is vital for students to succeed in the future. Creative Connections bases our approach on helping students prepare for their college OR career aspirations, no matter what they are. We’re here to be positive guides/mentors, in any way possible. “Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare today.”
Personally, Mr. Bassit has helped me organize my college list much better than I would have. He has helped me understand that not only are you looking for academics at a university, but also some type of liveliness among the community. This is a place you’re spending 4 years of your life, so spend it at a place you’ll enjoy.” Creative Connections is an education organization that puts their best foot forward to ensure the students a bright future after high school in college and in most importantly life.
Jared Ramirez, another WHSAD senior, has his own thoughts and feelings about Creative Connections: “When the Creative Connections people told us to make our college list I didn’t know what to put, so I started to look into trade schools. I feel like trades are better than colleges because you make more money when you come out of school instead of going to college and coming out in debt. There’s a trade for everyone if you want to build cars or boats or you want to fix up houses. If college isn’t for you, then you can look up and do your research on trade schools. Most trade schools are shorter than actual colleges and community colleges.”
With the Creative Connections partnership, WHSAD students receive a full education in their futures in all grades starting from freshman year up until graduation, and even after. Creative Connections truly has had a tremendous impact on the school, and the mentors, the students, and the teachers look forward to future success because of the partnership.