SAN MARCOS — The dream of a “one-stop-shop” where high school students can prepare for their futures became a reality in the San Marcos Unified School District on Thursday after leaders officially cut the ribbon for the district’s new Future Center on the San Marcos High School campus.
The Barbara J. Dolan Future Center, named for the beloved San Marcos High School educator of more than 30 years, provides services for students to explore their career options and assist them in planning their post-graduate futures, whether it includes a four- or two-year university, trade school, enlistment in the armed forces, or taking over a family business.
The school district is preparing to open a Future Center at all three of the district’s high schools, with unveiling ceremonies planned to take place in the coming weeks at Mission Hills and Twin Oaks high schools. Planning and fundraising of approximately $330,000 for the centers were managed by the San Marcos Promise, an educational foundation providing scholarships and other programs for local students.
“What we hope the Future Centers say to you is that we believe in your futures and are committed to your long-term success,” said Lisa Stout, executive director of the San Marcos Promise, during a dedication ceremony at San Marcos High School. “We operate on the premise that while talent is universal, opportunity is not. Our goal for students is simple; know yourself, know your goals and know your options.”
San Marcos city officials, school district board members and loved ones of the late Dolan joined hundreds of students and staff in the outdoor quad on Thursday for the dedication of the center, located in what was formerly the Career Center in the school’s Student Union.
Rather than the typical high school counseling operation focused on selecting classes and submitting college applications, the Future Center allows students to meet with education coordinators to prepare students for job interviews, speak with representatives from Palomar and other local colleges, and attend workshops focused on personal finance and other financial literacy skills.
With these systems of support, district officials hope to see an increase in the number of students who continue their education after high school, in the spirit of Dolan’s generosity and commitment to students.
“As we get ready to open these doors of the future center, it’s a symbolic opening of doors for our students,” said Superintendent Andy Johnson.
James Loweth, a junior Knight and digital media outreach ambassador for the Future Center could be seen demonstrating the school’s online resume builder to visitors on Thursday and sharing how the center supports students.
“If you ask a high schooler what they want to do after high school, they’re like I don’t know. For the high schoolers who do have a plan for what they want to do — for me, I knew I wanted to pursue engineering — coming here for advice has helped me figure out what programs I want to apply for,” Loweth said. “They’ve helped me a lot.”
Funds were gathered for the Future Centers via private donors and grant funding, with some individuals donating to a specific center in honor of the individual it is named after. The Dr. Kevin Holt Future Center at Mission Hills High School honors the district’s former superintendent who died in 2021.
While all three centers will be open by the end of May, fundraising is continuing in order to purchase additional items including more VR headsets, VR storage and a professional photo booth for headshots, according to district spokeswoman Amy Ventetuolo.