Excitement fills the fresh outdoor air as third, fourth, and fifth graders step off the school bus at the Sequoia Riverlands Trust in Visalia.

They’re spending the day out of the classroom with Granite Hills High School eleventh graders who are part of the “Ace Pathway.”

Victoria DeLarge, a science teacher at Granite Hills High School says, “I would say that this allows students to become more excited about education. They get hands-on learning. Hands-on experience with working with other students.”

The program is meant for high schoolers interested in a career in education.

Thanks to a partnership with “Trout in the Classroom”, students raised trout from eggs to fingerlings in a cold water aquarium throughout the school year.

The Granite Hills juniors help the young ones release the trout into the water while teaching them all about watersheds and soil conservation.

It’s a hands-on experience for the high schoolers who plan to become future educators.

Yadira Morales, an eleventh-grader at Granite Hills says, “I want to be a math teacher when I grow up, so having opportunities like this to get out and just interact with students and children is really amazing and I think that is the best part.”

“It’s a great group interaction. Not only are we using nature as like a resource for education, but now I am even learning from these students. So it is a great opportunity”, Viviana Lemus, an 11th grader, says

Aside from the opportunities “Ace Pathway” presents it reinforces the importance of outstanding character as the eleventh graders become role models for the elementary students.

Yadira Morales, an 11th grader, says, “My favorite part about being out here is just seeing the kids smile. it’s a contagious smile. just seeing kids out here having fun and enjoying learning is honestly so amazing.”

“The most enjoyable part has been seeing the kid’s interaction. One student may say something and then it sparks a light bulb in the other student.  They get super excited because they know what’s going on and they are even using terms I might have forgotten the definition to,” Lemus says.

Those ace pathway students remind us that “Your Character Matters.”