At the recognition, Trustee Rosemary Kamei said, “This is so exciting! When the Opportunity Youth program started, every board member knew that it was going to be wonderful and that it was going to do some really positive things for students.”
Kenith Cardenas, was honored as the Student of the Year.
“When I was at my other high school, I was not perfect,” said Cardenas. “One of the teachers who was tired of my ways said ‘since you’re 18, you don’t have to be here at school,’ and that had me feeling that he was giving up on me and I had no future.”
Opportunity Youth Academy gave Kenith a second chance, “at OYA, and high school in general, students are often sidetracked by circumstances that get in the way of their studies, and these circumstances often act as roadblocks to their success. Kenith, however, has not allowed such circumstances to impede his goal. Even during very difficult situations, Kenith bounces back and stays committed,” said his instructor Kevin Jacks.
Kenith’s commitment and perseverance merited his walk across the stage at the OYA graduation on June 7.
“Here I am now, I got my diploma, and I got the Student of the Year award, I will always remember this day,” said Cardenas.
Also honored that evening were Interns of the Year, Lizbeth Galeana and Itzel Enriquez, two OYA students who recently completed their internships with the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE). Twenty interns were chosen to work in departments across the SCCOE and were mentored by ten county office staff members.
“The interns worked in Human Resources, Technology Services, Communications, Special Education classrooms, and Facilities & Maintenance. OYA interns were trained by Teen Force, processed by HR and worked 20 hours a week at their assignment while maintaining their school work and progress toward graduation,” said County Superintendent of Schools, Jon R. Gundry.
“Often the missing link between an employers’ wish list and a student, is a track record in a variety of workplace experiences. These internships provide valuable opportunities for our students to gain work experience, empowers and encourages them to become more engaged and well-prepared to enter the workforce, and affords opportunities for our staff to serve as mentors and positive role models,” said Lisa Ketchum, Manager Work Force Services in the SCCOE.
“The program was created through cross-department collaboration between Human Resources, Talent Management, and Opportunity Youth Academy, and was funded through a one-time grant from Santa Clara County,” said Trustee Grace Mah.