STARBASE Program to Be Established at Porterville Military Academy

Congressman Kevin McCarthy announced Thursday the launch of a new STARBASE program, a Department of Defense STEM education program, at the Porterville Military Academy (PMA). Earlier this year, Congressman McCarthy proudly wrote in support of the application, which the California National Guard submitted on behalf of the Porterville Military Academy.

Since its opening in 2018, PMA’s vision has been to develop 21st century leaders, who will be agents of change in business, politics, and public service. With the motto ‘Leaders Forged Here,’ the charter school currently serves approximately 300 cadets in grades 7-12.

The school also is part of the Porterville Unified School District (PUSD) Pathways program, housing the Academy of Aviation and Leadership. This program provides realistic applied leadership challenges and an introduction to the world of aviation and drone operation in a rigorous academic setting to mold students to be model, civic-minded professionals that are tomorrow’s public service, civic, and aviation leaders. 

PMA features a classroom with 15 flight simulators as part of the aviation curriculum. This summer, Brady Unruh became the first PMA cadet to attend the Air Force Flight Academy, where he earned his FAA private pilot license.

STARBASE will join Porterville Unified School District’s two other offsite STEM/STEAM labs, The Future Ready Lab / Qualcomm® Thinkabit Lab™ and the Garner Holt “AniMakerspace” Lab, to create an immersive educational experience, not just for PUSD students, but for students throughout Tulare County and the Central Valley.  This will be the fifth STARBASE location in California and the launch of the program will allow 5th grade students to have a place to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related topics starting in the Fall of 2022. The program will engage students with “hands-on, minds-on” experiential activities. 

Congressman McCarthy released the following statement:
“There are few things in this world that are as wholesome as a young child who is excited about learning. In our community, I am proud to say that countless students fit this mold. That’s what makes it particularly exciting to announce that the Department of Defense is establishing a STARBASE at the Porterville Military Academy. STARBASE is a state-of-the art program that provides students with opportunities to learn more about STEM through hands-on learning, and I have no doubt that this program will help to inspire a generation of future STEM leaders. 
“I am grateful to the collaborative efforts by the Department of Defense, California National Guard, Porterville Military Academy, and the Porterville Unified School District, that has made this program become a reality for our local students. With this new investment, I cannot wait to see the benefits in our community and country in the years ahead.”
Local stakeholders provided the following quotes:
“The addition of Starbase at the Porterville Military Academy is a credit to the strong community that exists within the school district, the partnership between the civilian and military staff and the commitment of the California Military Department. Our programs change lives and Starbase will demonstrate to our young students the importance of science, technology, engineering and math to their future.” – Major General Matt Beevers, Acting Adjutant General, California National Guard

“For over 30 years, the DoD’s STARBASE program has exposed students across the nation to interactive STEM experiences and simulations in engineering, technology, aviation, and space. As the first female Veteran to serve in the California State Legislature, and as a member of the Governor’s Military Council, it is my honor to help bring STARBASE to Porterville Military Academy, which prides itself on developing 21st Century leaders who will be agents of change in the world. I am especially grateful to the community partners who advocated to bring this exceptional program to Tulare County and eagerly await its success.” – State Senator Shannon Grove
“The Porterville Military Academy (PMA) is a shining example of cooperation between locals and the state to bring better educational opportunities to the Central Valley.  In addition to the leaders of PMA, I must thank former Governor Jerry Brown for his vision of expanding the Oakland Military Institute into other regions of the state. We started the conversation about development and funding for PMA years ago, and I’m glad to see the fruits of that labor. Further, I am beyond grateful to the Department of Defense for awarding PMA with a STARBASE program. As the father of an active cadet, it brings me great pride to know that the Valley will have access to this incredible and life-changing experience.” – Assemblyman Devon J. Mathis
“For over a decade, Porterville Unified School District has worked with community partners to build our Pathway programs to provide our high school students hands-on, real-world learning and career exploration opportunities, with the most recent addition being the Porterville Military Academy. With this investment by the Department of Defense and in collaboration with the California Military Department, we are incredibly excited to bring these same experiences to even younger students in our community and open their eyes to the many opportunities in STEM as they continue their education. We are grateful for the continued support of Congressman McCarthy and the many other individuals who made this new program possible.”  – Dr. Nate Nelson, Superintendent, Porterville Unified School District

“Our PUSD mission is: ‘Creating Opportunities and Changing Lives.’ Having the DoD STARBASE at the Porterville Military Academy is an opportunity to provide unparalleled STEM experiences for our students. We are deeply honored to have STARBASE located here.” – Lillian Durbin, PUSD Governing Board President

“The DoD STARBASE is another path for a world-class education for PUSD students. Our students will have the ability to apply what they have learned in the classroom with hands-on projects that make learning more meaningful and fun. PUSD is truly creating opportunities and changing lives.” – Pete Lara, Jr., PUSD Governing Board Member

“When a vision becomes a reality and that reality becomes bigger than the vision is where we find ourselves today. We are now partners with the Department of Defense, representing not only the Porterville Unified School District, but the state of California as well.” – Felipe Martinez, PUSD Governing Board Member

"The city of Porterville is known as a community with strong support for our nation's armed forces, which the Porterville Military Academy proudly displays that important community value everyday in the commitment to its students. The City of Porterville wishes to thank Congressman McCarthy for his support for the establishment of the STARBASE program in partnership with the Porterville Unified School District at the Porterville Military Academy, helping better equip and prepare its students for the careers of tomorrow, especially in the STEM fields." — John D. Lollis, City Manager, City of Porterville

Porterville Military Academy and STARBASE:
For more information on enrollment for the Porterville Military Academy, please call (559) 782-7300 or go online at For more information on the STARBASE Program, visit