Cafeteria Chats: P-TECH students embrace their program

May 19, 2017

Pathways to Early College High School (P-TECH) is providing students with an opportunity to earn a high school diploma and two-year associates degree. In part II of our Cafeteria Chats series WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley continues her conversation with five P-TECH students who fully embrace this school program.  

Decade after decade school students are often categorized by one another into certain groups. Teen comedy movies about school life do it best, like in the movie Mean Girls where a new student receives advice. But in real life, the P-TECH students we met with, who come from rural communities in the region, might be placed in the ‘smart’ student category. As we sat around a table with them, it started to feel like they were the characters in the T.V. series The Big Bang Theory.  

P-TECH join our Cafeteria Chats series.
Credit WBFO News photo by Jonny Moran

“I haven’t found a thing that you cannot apply machining to. It’s like electricity – you need it everywhere,” declared Joseph Schwartz, ninth grader in the P-TECH program.

The five students fully support the P-TECH program that involves project-based learning with a focus on industry and manufacturing careers. Here’s what their conversation sounded like when we gave them our microphone.            

“Uh, Robert Goodrich. Um, my name is Hope Smith. Uh, Luke Peterson-Riedesel. Sara Rosario, but most of the time people just call me ‘Garth’.  Joseph Schwartz,” as the students gave us their names.   

P-TECH join our Cafeteria Chats series.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“How are away do I hold this? – it’s been a long-time since I’ve been on Broadway,” joked Schwartz.

P-Tech, for me – it’s a beautiful program for a couple of reasons. I love P-Tech because it brings a whole new world of expectations from your parents, your peers, your teachers, and all that. Other—now—what P-TECH makes me feel like, is it feels like [Mr. Russec, Mr. Conte,] all the people that are supporting P-TECH, are essentially supporting my future family. Because think about it like this: if I didn’t have this walkway to get right into college, this walkway to get right into my machine business, it’d be a lot harder to stand up and I’d be like this if I just—with Frewsbrug. Right now, I know right where I’m gonna go,” explained Schwartz. 

“Alright Hope, what do you think of the supports in your future,” asked Schwartz.

P-TECH join our Cafeteria Chats series.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“Since I want to go into programming and computer designing, this is a very good program,  because, in math we’ve already done basic programming, which I very much enjoy. And as soon as I finish this, I can basically go out, get a better degree and I can go to get my future job, live the life I want and just love how everything’s going,” responded Smith. 

“P-TECH is kind of lighting the fuse to start the fire so others can start to see – ‘hey this doesn’t seem like a bad career – maybe I want to pursue this’ to get others to join the workforce,” declared Rosario.

We are nearing the end of our Cafeteria Chats series as this school year winds down, but soon we will have our final installment will feature students from Starpoint High School in Niagara County where the discuss the difficult topic of losing a classmate.