For the first time in Dover High School's history, classes will be canceled Friday to allow students to take part in a full day of workshops, pep rallies and career fairs in what the school has dubbed Passport to Success Day.

Between the SATs, the extracurriculars and the college entrance exams, getting through high school is no easy feat for today's students. This is why the Parent Teacher Organization and administrators at Dover High School have developed a unique plan to prepare students for the real world while empowering them in the classroom.

For the first time in the high school's history, classes will be canceled Friday, Sept. 28, to allow students to take part in a full day of workshops, pep rallies and career fairs, which will be set up throughout the entire campus.

Passport to Success Day is about arming students with the tools they need to excel in life, rather than just getting them to a diploma, said PTO Coordinator Jerry Houston. The idea is to engage students in a way that will energize them to be leaders and responsible citizens.

"My vision is to have the students be engaged in life skills that they don't learn from the curriculum," Houston said. "They'll learn ways to overcome obstacles and how to read a credit report – all the things that are lacking in our curriculums."

Passport to Success will bring in 65 presenters who will meet face-to-face with students and explain what it is they do in life and how they got to where they are today. Sprinkled throughout the building will be stations for workshops, which will guide students in developing good study habits, constructing well-organized essays, building resumes and monitoring their credit.

The career fair is meant to open up options for students who may be undecided about their future career path. The face-to-face interaction that students will experience is meant to help students see themselves in professions in science and technology fields, reinforcing the mindset that they can be anything they want to be.

"The theme of this event is Dream, Believe and Achieve," Houston said. "If they can dream it, if they believe it, they can achieve it. We want to instill that attitude and help them see at the core what these students actually have inside of them."

This event is not all work, though. High schoolers will be treated to pep rallies to celebrate Dover High pride. The organizers have teamed up with local college drumlins and performers to make the day special for all involved. Raffles will be held, giving participants the chance to win big-ticket items such as laptops.

"We want them to be excited to be at Dover High School," Houston said. "We want them to know we care. This is about them, not us."

Houston said the PTO has been working for the past year and a half to make this event happen. The group has the support of the Dover High administration and the district.

"This will be the start of something new," he said. "This is the first time we've ever done something like this and the district took a chance on us. We showed the leaders of this district that we are really passionate about what we're doing. We're very excited."

The hope of the organization is that Passport to Success Day will become an annual event, with additions to the lineup each year.

"We're going to go through the process to see what works," Houston said. "It has to be ongoing in order for it to work."