U.S. Congressman Kevin McCarthy, who represents Porterville, announced on Thursday the launch of a new STARBASE program, a Department of Defense STEM education program, at Porterville Military Academy.

Earlier this year, McCarthy wrote in support of the application, which the California National Guard submitted on behalf of PMA.

PMA will be only the fifth STARBASE site in California. The launch of the program will allow fifth graders to explore STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, topics beginning this fall. STARBASE is known as a program that engages students in “hands-on, minds-on” experiential activities.

Since its opening in 2018, PMA’s vision has been to develop 21st century leaders in business, politics, and public service. PMA's motto is “Leaders Forged Here.” There are 300 cadets who attend the charter school in grades 7-12.

 The school is also part of the Porterville Unified School District Pathways program where the Academy of Aviation and Leadership is operated. The program provides realistic applied leadership challenges and an introduction to the world of aviation and drone operation in a rigorous academic setting to serve students who are interested in becoming aviation leaders. 

 PMA features a classroom with 15 flight simulators as part of the aviation curriculum. This summer, Brady Unruh became the first PMA cadet to attend the Air Force Flight Academy, where he earned his FAA private pilot license.

 STARBASE will join PUSD's two other offsite STEM/STEAM labs, The Future Ready Lab/Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab and the Garner Holt “AniMakerspace” Lab, which serve not just PUSD students, but students throughout Tulare County and the Central Valley.  This will be the fifth STARBASE location in California and the launch of the program will allow 5th grade students to have a place to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related topics starting in the Fall of 2022. The program will engage students with “hands-on, minds-on” experiential activities. 

There are few things in this world that are as wholesome as a young child who is excited about learning,” McCarthy said. “In our community, I am proud to say that countless students fit this mold. That’s what makes it particularly exciting to announce that the Department of Defense is establishing a STARBASE at the Porterville Military Academy. STARBASE is a state-of-the art program that provides students with opportunities to learn more about STEM through hands-on learning, and I have no doubt that this program will help to inspire a generation of future STEM leaders. 


I am grateful to the collaborative efforts by the Department of Defense, California National Guard, Porterville Military Academy, and the Porterville Unified School District, that has made this program become a reality for our local students. With this new investment, I cannot wait to see the benefits in our community and country in the years ahead.”


Major General Matt Beevers, acting adjutant general for the California National Guard, sated STARBASE demonstrates to young students the importance of STEM to their future.


The addition of Starbase at the Porterville Military Academy is a credit to the strong community that exists within the school district, the partnership between the civilian and military staff and the commitment of the California Military Department,” Beevers said. “Our programs change lives.”

The Department of Defense's STARBASE program has served students across the nation for 30 years.

As the first female Veteran to serve in the California State Legislature, and as a member of the Governor’s Military Council, it is my honor to help bring STARBASE to Porterville Military Academy, which prides itself on developing 21st Century leaders who will be agents of change in the world,” State Senator Shannon Grove stated. “I am especially grateful to the community partners who advocated to bring this exceptional program to Tulare County and eagerly await its success.” 

State Assemblyman Devon Mathis stated STARBASE is an example of the cooperation between local and state leaders to bring education opportunities to the Central Valley.

In addition to the leaders of PMA, I must thank former Governor Jerry Brown for his vision of expanding the Oakland Military Institute into other regions of the state,” Mathis said. “We started the conversation about development and funding for PMA years ago, and I’m glad to see the fruits of that labor. 

Further, I am beyond grateful to the Department of Defense for awarding PMA with a STARBASE program. As the father of an active cadet, it brings me great pride to know that the Valley will have access to this incredible and life-changing experience.” 

PUSD superintendent Nate Nelson said the district has worked with community partners for more than a decade to build the Pathways program to provide students with hands-on, real-world learning and career opportunities, with the most recent addition being STARBASE at PMA.

With this investment by the Department of Defense and in collaboration with the California Military Department, we are incredibly excited to bring these same experiences to even younger students in our community and open their eyes to the many opportunities in STEM as they continue their education,” Nelson said. “We are grateful for the continued support of Congressman McCarthy and the many other individuals who made this new program possible.” 


Our PUSD mission is: ‘Creating Opportunities and Changing Lives.’ Having the DoD STARBASE at the Porterville Military Academy is an opportunity to provide unparalleled STEM experiences for our students. We are deeply honored to have STARBASE located here.” – Lillian Durbin, PUSD Governing Board President

PUSD board member Pete Lara said STARBASE will provide world-class education for PUSD students. “Our students will have the ability to apply what they have learned in the classroom with hands-on projects that make learning more meaningful and fun. PUSD is truly creating opportunities and changing lives,” Lara said. 

Fellow PUSD board member Felipe Martinez noted PUSD is now a partner with the Department of Defense.

 “When a vision becomes a reality and that reality becomes bigger than the vision is where we find ourselves today,” he said.

Porterville City Manager John Lollis said STARBASE being placed at PMA is fitting since Porterville is known for its strong support of the nation's armed forces.

Porterville Military Academy proudly displays that important community value every day in the commitment to its students,” Lollis said. “The City of Porterville wishes to thank Congressman McCarthy for his support for the establishment of the STARBASE program in partnership with the Porterville Unified School District at the Porterville Military Academy, helping better equip and prepare its students for the careers of tomorrow, especially in the STEM fields." 

The Department of Defense STARBASE program is partnering with the California National Guard to establish PMA as the program's newest location. It's the second location in the 23rd Congressional District represented by McCarthy, joining STARBASE Edwards at Edwards Air Force Base.

For more information on enrollment for the Porterville Military Academy, call (559) 782-7300 or go online at pma.portervilleschools.org. For more information on the STARBASE Program, visit www.dodstarbase.org.




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