Portola High Hosts First-Ever Passion Day

Image of Chip Yates Presentation

Portola High School recently hosted its first-ever “Take a Risk and Follow Your Passion Day” for its inaugural freshman class. This innovative program is a four-year process, from grades nine to twelve, culminating in a “Senior Passion Project.”


Portola High course design across disciplines supports students so that by the time they enter their senior year, they will be ready to address one problem or issue of personal interest and relevance. Along the way, they will research a possible approach or solution, and create a product or model that they will present to a panel of experts from the community—whether academic, artistic or entrepreneurial.


While speaking about why Portola students are participating in Passion Day and Senior Passion Projects, Principal John Pehrson said, “This is about helping students find, nurture and pursue their passion.” He continued, “As educators, our efforts each day are driven by our commitment to help each learner become capable, creators, communicators and contributors so they are prepared for competitive 21st century college and career.”


To kick off the program, the Portola hosted Passion Day, which was organized similar to a professional conference. The day started with IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker delivering opening remarks. Students then chose to attend three workshops from 30 options put on by teachers, students, parents, and community members, including Olympic Gold Medalist and Irvine High graduate Jason Lezak, all of whom shared information about their passions and careers.


The workshops were followed by a keynote address from American inventor Chip Yates, who is a green technology innovator and has set 18 World Records in electric vehicles he designed.


During the keynote address, Yates spoke about his own experiences as a child through adulthood. As he spoke to students about finding their passions, he shared his formula for success – the audacity to try, the courage to fail and the willingness to learn. Yates provided examples of how he learned from his failures and with an unending drive, he built the world’s fastest electric motorcycle and his own electric plane.


Students concluded this inspiring day with a 45-minute small group debrief in each student’s advisement to reflect on what they learned and what their next steps are going forward.


IUSD is looking forward to the class of 2020’s senior projects and the perspective of these bright young minds as they find their passions and ways to make a difference.


To read the Orange County Register’s coverage of Passion Day, “Orange County electric vehicle pioneer fuels passion for Irvine students,” click here.