The eighth-grader aimed the high-pressure fire hose in the general direction of his classmates — careful, of course, to just miss them with the spray.
“This is not like any other class,” Justin Alonso, 13, said after handing over the hose to Elizabeth Martinez, a classmate at Sycamore Junior High School in Anaheim.
A couple of hours before Elizabeth, 13, took her turn at the hose at the North Net Training Center at Orangewood Avenue and the 57 Freeway, she made fast friends with K9 Ivan at the Anaheim Police Department.
“That was my favorite part,” Elizabeth said of a field trip Wednesday, when she and 21 other students in Sycamore teacher Dayna Whitman’s Business Administration class toured the Anaheim PD and North Net, the training facility used by Anaheim Fire & Rescue and other agencies.
The Jan. 7 tour was part of a career exploration class that included weekly visits to Sycamore by Anaheim police and fire personnel throughout the semester that ends later this month.
The aim of the Public Safety Pathways Program is to expose youngsters to career possibilities in the public safety field. Police, fire and school district officials are working on establishing a formal Public Safety Career Pathway in select junior high schools throughout Anaheim; Sycamore Junior High was the first to offer it.
“It was awesome,” Whitman said of the curriculum. “I can’t say enough about the Anaheim Police Department and Anaheim (Fire & Rescue). They were so incredibly good. Every week you’d think it couldn’t get any better than the previous week, but it did.”
In addition to careers as police officers and firefighters, the program exposes students to such specialties as forensics, dispatch, traffic, crime, emergency response and fire prevention.
The visit to the Anaheim PD included a look at the city jail. And the trip to North Net included an auto extrication demonstration in which Whitman portrayed an injured person trapped in a car.
Students also watched a member of the Anaheim Fire & Rescue team climb 85 feet up an extended ladder on a fire truck.
“No way,” a Sycamore student said when asked if she would like to climb that high.
In addition to the field trip and classroom visits by homicide detectives, paramedics and other police and fire representatives, the Sycamore students in the Public Safety Pathways Program learned about how early life decision-making can imperil future public safety and other career opportunities.
As for those opportunities, Justin pretty much has made up his mind.
“I’m mainly interested in becoming a police officer,” he said.