Granite Hills High School (GHHS) students, staff, dignitaries from the community and the city, Porterville Unified School District (PUSD) Superintendent Nate Nelson, PUSD board of trustees and members of the justice and law enforcement community gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Pathways Law and Justice Center on Wednesday, August 21.

A huge crowd of the law and justice pathways students gathered to witness the ground breaking ceremony. The excitement was brimming as Nelson, Porterville Police Department (PPD) Chief Eric Kroutil, Tulare County Court Administration Manager Deanna Jasso, PUSD Board member Jim Carson, Tulare County District Attorney (D.A.) Tim Ward, PUSD Board Trustee Tom Velasquez, Assistant Tulare County D.A. Robert Dempsie, PUSD Board President Lillian Durbin and Director PUSD Pathways Cindy Brown broke the ground with their shovels.

Before the ground breaking Dempsie said, “I just think this is a tremendous recognition of the work these students have done at Granite Hills High School. ”

Porterville City Council member Virgina Gurrola was in attendance as well.

“The law and justice pathways center will certainly give the lift-off to higher education. And it will give the students a fantastic opportunity and experience. Just learning about the law and justice system is amazing,” said Gurrola. “The City, Public Safety, and the D.A office will all be partners with the PUSD LJE Pathways program.”

Dempsie spoke to the assembled crowd outside in the bright sun in the middle of campus where the new center will be located. “Welcome everyone. This is an amazing day on the Granite Hills campus. I cannot tell you how proud I am of this academy. Close to 400 students in the Law, Justice and Ethics (LJE) academy. The fact that so many young people are interested in a career in law, justice and ethics is wonderful. This is the first high school in California with a dedicated law and justice center, and it is all your hard work and endeavours that have paid off with this building and I will be the first person entering it upon completion.”

Ward spoke to the LJE students, and said, “We tried very hard to have a police force and district attorney office in Porterville that are involved in the community. Today you are starting a visionary program with the LJE pathways. And whatever path you take from here, you are guaranteed an interview in my office. Go Grizzlies!”

GHHS’ Principal Apollinar Marroquin shared his excitement for the students and the new part of the GHHS campus.

“The Granite Hills family is excited about the future LJE Law Center and the opportunities created by a 21st century learning environment,” said Marroquin. “The Law Center will facilitate six multi-functional classrooms, two state of the art science forensic labs, all centered around our very own courtroom. The Law Center will enrich the learning experiences for our students, as it will facilitate and expose our students to “real-world” learning in the areas of public safety and law. Not only a great addition to the Granite Hills campus and LJE program, it will also open it’s doors to PUSD and the city of Porterville by hosting parent orientations, staff training and community events. On behalf of the Granite Hills family, we would also like to thank our school board and district superintendents for turning a dream into reality and for the unwavering support of our children.”

“PUSD’s commitment to their students is unparalleled, and they are not just focused on producing high school graduates but on students who will have successful careers and live,” said Chief Kroutil. “With this program not only will these kids be ready for a career, but the program is also creating a foundation for high quality public safety employees.”

During the ceremony, Tara Adams, a representative from Assemblyman Devon Mathis and Senator Melissa Hurtado, presented PUSD Superintendent Nate Nelson with Certificates of Recognition for LJE Pathways building from the state.

LJE student Maria Basurto said she could not wait for the new building to be finished because the Law, Justice and Ethics program has become a large pathway program.

GHHS junior Chloe Ross said, “Seeing how much the LJE Pathway has grown since my freshman year is astounding. I am really looking forward to utilizing this new building during my senior year. It’s very exciting.”

Superintendent Nelson was proud to have the center come to GHHS, and is looking forward to watching students learn and use the facility.

“The Justice Center will create a wonderful educational experience for our Granite Hills High School Law, Justice, and Ethics students to study in a real-world setting,” Nelson said. “This will be a unique and first-class facility with features not seen in the area. We appreciate the effort of our Governing Board members, teachers, administrators, and staff, to make this project a reality.”

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