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Students from James Rutter Middle School in the Elk Grove Unified School District showcased their geospatial mapping designs at a state conference and took home an award

Driving a large van full of middle school students might not be everyone’s idea of a great day, but James Rutter Middle School Principal Sonia Rambo would argue differently. She recently took 9 of her students on a three-hour road trip to Fresno for the CalGIS 2019 25th Annual Gathering where geographic information systems professionals gather for panels, presentations and pitches for new ideas in the world of GIS (Geographic Information System). This special opportunity for the geospatial mapping Rutter students gave the school a chance to be recognized for their excellence in mapping.

At the event, Principal Rambo quickly realized that her students represented the only school invited to the CalGIS conference and was so proud to see her Rutter Roadrunners dressed to impress in their collared shirts, ready to set up their project displays. The students were well-prepared to answer the many questions that adults in attendance had regarding their projects—all centered on geospatial mapping. Following this, the students participated in a panel session with their mentors, Marc Epstein and Dr. Karen Sanko, where students shared some of their experiences and did an impressive job presenting to a room full of adults.

A catered luncheon followed the panel and the posted agenda read “Hosted lunch with James Rutter Middle School”. During this luncheon, a news story that featured the James Rutter Middle School students in attendance was played and Principal Rambo was given an opportunity to give a short speech, but instead she thanked the crowd for recognizing their 1st and 3rd place finishes in a mapping competition and passed the microphone to her students. Students shared their favorite part about mapping and received a certificate for their school.

The geospatial mapping program at James Rutter Middle School is a part of the Career Technical Education pathways available and gives students amazing hands-on experiences with mapping and top of the line mapping software. Geospatial mapping is a skill that students can use in the future, as many fields of work use this data. Principal Rambo said that as the day went on, she “was more and more impressed by this group of young people who carried on full conversations with adults who use or aspire to use geospatial mapping in their career fields. I am sold on this program and the benefits it has on our students and their future.”

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