Decorated with college pennants and motivational words, Waite Middle School launched its College and Career Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 30, providing students with the opportunity to explore academic and career pathways at an early age.

“I am very happy to see this,” Waite Associated Student Body Treasurer Joseph Nunez said. “Students will get a chance to learn about colleges all around the country and can make an informed choice on classes and subjects they will study when they begin high school.”

The college and career center features computers and college planning guides, and will host industry professionals for talks about their careers. One wall displays three career pathway groups that Waite students can potentially follow: Fire House, a public service pathway; Earth House, a technology pathway; and Wind House, an arts pathway.

“I am so proud that we can provide this opportunity to support our community,” Waite Principal Dr. Susan Newcomb said. “It was great to have city representatives for this dedication ceremony. They work collaboratively with us and our District schools in so many ways.”

Students can also learn about the college and career paths of Waite teachers and administrators by checking out the “Where Did Your Teachers Go to School?” board. For example, Newcomb received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Cal State Fullerton and her Ph.D. at Claremont Graduate University.

“We thought it would be neat for students to see where our own college and career paths have led us,” Newcomb said. “You have to plan, you have to have a starting point, and there are many, many choices.”

Waite joins Corvallis, Benton and Hutchinson middle schools in having a college and career center on its campus, a resource typically only available at high schools. Superintendent Dr. Hasmik Danielian pushed to open middle school career centers after listening to a Corvallis student.

“A student said to me, ‘I was at Norwalk High and I saw that they had a college and career center and a counselor. Why can’t we have one?’” Danielian said. “I always knew that students were smarter than we are.”

The College and Career Center will also act as Waite’s Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports student store. Waite students receive “Panther Bucks” throughout the year when they display proper behavior. They can later redeem the Panther Bucks at the store for a game or collectible.

The center will be supervised by Waite intervention counselor Paul Castaños and staff counselor Patty Sierra during lunch and break.

“Norwalk-La Mirada Unified middle school students will receive early guidance from counselors who are attuned to their needs and well-prepared to answer their questions,” NLMUSD Board President Karen Morrison said. “Our District is committed to providing our students with every tool and resource they will need to succeed.”


101116_NLMUSD_WAITECCC1: Norwalk-La Mirada Unified administrators, Board of Education members and Norwalk City Councilmember Leonard Shryock joined Waite students, teachers and staff in celebrating Waite’s new College and Career Center opening on Sept. 30.

101116_NLMUSD_WAITECCC2: A Waite Middle School student reads about the different colleges and careers her teachers embarked on at the school’s newly opened College and Career Center on Sept. 30.

101116_NLMUSD_WAITECCC3: Three members of the Waite Middle School Associated Student Body (ASB) are all smiles at the ribbon-cutting for the school’s College and Career Center on Sept. 30.