Gutierrez ACE Program discovers new career paths


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Sitting in a classroom at Gutierrez Middle School, a group of about 30 students sat at desks with their minds and ears open to new career paths during an after school program aimed at cultivating new skills.

“It’s fun to learn how to do so many different things,” said seventh grade student Kaelyn Bejaran. “You find out what you’re good at and what you love to do. You discover what you can see yourself doing in the future.”

These students participated in the Lip-Dub class during the schools Afterschool Centers on Education (ACE) Program. Throughout the eight-week course, students were introduced to the art of filmmaking and the many duties involved in the visual creative process. From directing to set design, every student was able to gain hands-on experience on all areas of video production and determine which discipline best suited them, said Rogelio Berlanga, Gutiérrez Ace Tutor.

“I learned how to paint and make props,” said Bejaran. “Knowing how to do these things has helped me in class whenever we do our projects. I’m always looking for ways to be creative and use what I learned.”

To put their skills to the test, students created a musical video that showcased the fun and academic environment they experience every day during the ACE Program. Students also wanted the video to encourage more students to join the program, said Jacob Gutiérrez, ACE tutor.

While making the video, the goal was for students to not only learn new skills but about potential future career paths and degree plans, said Roxana Kozem, Gutierrez ACE Coordinator. That goal spans across every activity that the ACE Program provides.

“Students don’t realize how many options are out there for them to discover,” said Kozem. “The creation of the video tied into directing, producing, acting and editing. With every activity we do at ACE, it gives students the opportunity to see the types of careers and degrees they could pursue in the future. It makes the possibilities real.”

Kozem’s hope for students to discover their future passions have been met by sixth grade student Manuel Pacheco, who now has an idea of what his future holds.

“I see myself editing videos and acting in the future,” said Pacheco. “I want to be in the drama program when I go to high school. After I graduate, I want to go to a video production school.”

With the positive reaction students, administration and parents have had for the activity; Kozem, Gutierrez and Berlanga are already planning for the next video class.

“We have big plans for our next class,” said Kozem. “It will be bigger and better.”

The mission of the ACE program is to provide students with a safe and social after school environment that allows them to continue the educational day. The program is available at every secondary school in HCISD and Bowie and Rodriguez elementary schools. The program is free for all students and they are encouraged to sign up any time during the school year. Applications can be found at the campus’ administration office.

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