Hesperia High School held a grand opening for its Design, Engineering, and Manufacturing Academy (DEMA) last week, welcoming community members to attend from 4 to 6 p.m. March 1.

DEMA is made up of the fine and industrial arts classes, along with some of the Regional Occupational classes. The engineering major consists of the automotive, robotics and engineering while the manufacturing class is for the manufacturing major. The design major is made up of drawing and painting classes, graphic design, photography, sculpture, and journalism and yearbook classes.

“(The school started DEMA) to help guide and focus students more toward careers and keep them on track through high school, so that when they leave they’ll have a skill set upon completion. So instead of taking random classes and being OK at a bunch of little skills, they’ll have a good grasp and they’ll have a depth of skills in a field,” art teacher Jennifer Campbell said.

“(DEMA is) a whole bunch of us teachers (working) together; it’s kind of like something that involves the creative process from start to finish,” art teacher Isaim Buenrostro said. “I think DEMA for us is that through design, through engineering, through manufacturing, how can we, kind of instill, or kind of get you guys [to] do the creative process? I think how to do that, I think that is an essence of what DEMA is. This being the flight-ship project, you know?”

Getting this academy to open wasn’t easy, but thanks to Victor Valley College, which helped with a grant, Hesperia High was able to get the support and equipment needed to continue to work on the program for the students.

“When I first became principal here, I put a proposal together for the superintendent that included two things. It included [the DEMA] academy and it included the Early College Academy. So we did the Early College Academy first and then we had an opportunity for a grant … honestly this program it’s expensive,” Principal Michelle Estrada said.

“This grant for VVC really opened that final door of, ‘okay now, here’s some funding that can help and support you,’ because before the funding was in pieces. So that funding really propelled us forward and we had a basic overall vision of bringing design and engineering together for this school. Then gave that to this amazing team of teachers who ran with it and put together all the details of it and really gave it its character.”

DEMA is intended for students to guide themselves easier in their high school lives to better prepare themselves and acquire more skills for their futures. It will give students who join the opportunity to major in a curriculum provided by DEMA and motivate them into deciding what college major — and eventually, career — they would want.

“You’re here for your education and we want to give you a strong education. One way to do that is very directly prepare you for your future so you have an interest in the arts and so we give you an opportunity in the arts. Or you have an interest in engineering, we give you opportunities in engineering. Or you just have an interest in education and in your future college careers so we give you an opportunity to have something that’s exciting that hooks you into high school,” Estrada said.

“So whether it’s just to give you something of interest where you learn some great basic skills and you learn teamwork and you learn service to your school and your community, you learn those things while doing some exciting projects and you move on and go to college and become a doctor or lawyer. It has nothing to do with DEMA, that could possibly be, or you apply these skills and you find that you’re very fascinated by this particular career area and you go and pursue a career in that field. So either way it’s a win for students if you give students something that’s engaging and interesting and it’s a much better, much richer experience. Whether they’re really interested in that career field or not the things that they learned from the program would carry them through their lives.”

DEMA is not only a great way for students to find career paths but it’s also intended to help them and the high school grow, officials said.

“I hope that it gives people the opportunity to see what Hesperia High School is really all about. Give people the opportunity to see we are pretty unique and we have an amazing staff and we have great students and any time you can open your doors and show that off, it’s great,” Estrada said.

Ileana Alvarenga is a journalism student who attends Hesperia High School.