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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Hillside Middle School eighth-grade students tour Highland High School, in order to make the transition from middle school to high school easier for them, in Salt Lake City Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012.

SALT LAKE CITY — Eighth-grade students at Hillside Middle School got a peek into what their futures will hold on Tuesday by visiting high school classes they'll be able to enroll in next year.

"I wish that I had this opportunity," said parent volunteer Sarah Haslam, "because I kind of feel like I went into high school blindly."

The field trip served two purposes: to familiarize the students with high school teachers and classrooms while introducing them to various career and technical courses beyond the standard core curriculum offerings.

"It gives them an opportunity to see the classes they might want to be in," said Kathy Phipps, a family and consumer science teacher at Hillside. "Hopefully it's going to keep some kids in school that might otherwise drop out of school because they have no interest area."

The students in Phipps' class visited Salt Lake City School District's Career and Technical Center located at the old South High campus. While most will attend Highland High, they'll be bused to the South campus should they take classes in child development, information technology, agriculture, culinary arts and more.

Dani Flores, 14, said she hoped the field trip would help her "get ready for ninth grade and show (me) where the classes and what the classes are for."

The hope is that the kids will be prepared even beyond high school, by starting them on a specific career and education path early on. Students can take concurrent enrollment classes and receive high school and college credit simultaneously.

"We have some really great things for kids to take in their high school years," Phipps said. "They can also see how some of their core classes are now important because they are the foundation for some of these other (career and technical education) programs."

Haslam said she thinks the introduction will make the transition from middle school to high school easier on her son than it was for her.

"We got our student handbook and it described the classes but it was very vague, I think," she said. "I hope that he will hopefully be better prepared."

Hillside plans to track these students through high school to see how effective this field trip is in helping navigate students through high school and into the real world.

E-mail: niyamba@ksl.com, mfarmer@desnews.com

Twitter: mollyfarmer