Learning beyond the classroom

Pathways students take various educational trips around Southern Calif.


Photo courtesy of Mario Enriquez

Junior Ryan Mendoza poses for the camera as he gets ready to zipline on Pathways’s Orange County Ropes Course trip in Anaheim on Oct. 18.

For the past 21 years, Diamond Bar High School’s Pathways Communications Academy program has been taking their students on day-long educational trips around Southern California.

The program, which is one of 500 California Partnership Academies, offers college preparation courses for sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Pathways also provides smaller class sizes, leadership training and a mentoring program for its students.

The program creates family groups to give its 100 students many opportunities to intermingle with each other.

“Pathways is exactly the same as normal school, you learn the same exact things,” senior Elyssa Rodriguez said. “The only difference is we get a tighter experience with the people around us and we get to go on field trips and have more real-word experiences compared to just your average class.”

The nine field trips these students take are the sophomore Retreat and junior Ropes Course in October, sophomore Whale Watching and senior Escape Room in November, All-Academy trip and Home Boy Industries in January, sophomore College Visit in March, junior Nixon Library trip in April and senior Retreat in May.

During the one-day October retreat, sophomores head to the San Bernardino Mountains to play games and bond with one another.

Juniors who go on the ropes course trip play bonding games and tackle the course, which helps them take on their own fears.

Senior Linda Beltran, who accompanied the students this year to film the trip, recalls her experiences with the ropes course when she went last year.

“We got put into perspective on fear,” Beltran said. “You’re not necessarily afraid of the heights, you’re afraid of falling, you’re afraid of the pain that will happen when you hit the ground.”

Beltran said the ropes course was her favorite trip because it changed her perspective on life.

“Because I was so afraid of failing, I didn’t give myself the chance to win, and I didn’t give myself the chance to actually accomplish something,” Beltran said. “That really led to a perspective…[that] you can’t take take the chance of wanting to win without the fear of losing.”

Until 2016, Pathways sophomores also had the opportunity to take a trip to Disneyland, where they learned about how Walt Disney overcame his struggles.

“It was just cool to actually hear from professionals that your leadership skills get you really far,” Rodriguez said. “You need to have a firm handshake, look someone in the eye and not feel awkward about it.”

One activity that Rodriguez recalls was the envelope activity during the Disney trip, where students wrote down what they wanted to accomplish in the future.

She aspired to become a neonatal nurse, specializing in caring for newborn babies.

Beltran said she hoped to obtain a bachelor’s degree in filmmaking, as well as find internship and networking opportunities.

Rodriguez said she has enjoyed her Pathways experience.

“I’ve learned to use my extrovertedness for good, like in leadership skills,” Rodriguez said.

Beltran, meanwhile, said she has learned something from each Pathways trip and gained more confidence and life tips as a result.

“I definitely think that a lot of the kids that are in Pathways always find themselves and they always find that one thing that is life-changing for them,” Beltran said.