Safety Academy opens doors to 5th to 8th graders


Stephanie Jimenez

Cadets begin to march to their classrooms as Ben Torres, an officer, gives directions. They march daily on around the football field.

The sound of sirens through the streets alarms most and intrigues many, but to what extent will people go to pursue the dream of wanting to keep people out of the way of danger?

This year, the new Public Safety Academy, or PSA, opened up in the left side of the R-wing. For the first time, fifth through eighth graders will be sharing not only the campus but half of that building with high school students.

Eighth grader Hailey Cheek said that being around older students was intimidating at first, but she quickly got used to the environment. “It just feels like normal,” Cheek said.

According the PSA Principal Megan Russo, the students are introduced to a plethora of public safety careers, which include firefighting, policing, FBI agent, evidence technician, and many more. On top of acquainting themselves with the possibilities that their futures hold, the cadets are being taught manners, responsibility, honesty, integrity, and how to be leaders, Russo said.

The school has received lots of help from their partners, like the Stockton Police Department. “Since we are partnered with all of our local agencies, like Stockton PD, the sheriff’s department, and SUSD police, they’re coming out, and they’re meeting our kids,” Russo said. “So it’s not about them coming out to enforce anything with our kids, it’s about them coming out and meeting them.”

The end goal, according to Russo, is to take over the entire R-wing in the near future. “We’ll finish renovations next summer for the rest of the R-wing, and then we’re going to possibly double in size over the next couple of years. Our maximum enrollment will be between 500 to 600.”

The new school is bringing a whole new world of possibilities for the younger students to finally be introduced to the careers they want in the future.

However, the students didn’t enroll in the PSA just to go into a certain career. For eighth grader Junior Arreaga, coming to this school was also for a more challenging curriculum. “It’s more strict here,” he said. “ We have to wear uniforms every day.” Even when they are working on their formation, they are told to walk along the walls in a straight, single-file line, Arreaga said.

Both students had family in public safety careers, from being a police officer to enlisting in a branch of the military. For Arreaga, he said his parents are proud of him wanting to go to the school. “My parents are proud of me, and my dad is really happy,” he said.

Cheek sees her attendance at PSA is like going on to continue her family legacy, with an aunt and uncle working for the police and her grandpa being in the military. She feels that students “who go here will have a better career.”