Fusion Charter held its first career fair, bringing businesses, health care, fire departments and local military recruiters to speak with at-risk teens about their futures.
“Everyone needs a high school diploma. Bring your diploma, you’re in the door. No diploma, they toss that application away,” speaker Gil Ogden told them. “What else? You tell them you’re always available. Not, ‘I don’t want to work Saturdays, no weeknights.’ The guy who’s always available goes in the in-box.”
Ogden, head of student services for the Turlock Unified School District, laid out other job basics like showing up every day and being on time. Straight talk about what employers want and the importance of sticking it out was his message for kids who have struggled in traditional school settings, the students the innovative charter school in Turlock was designed to serve.
Starbucks store manager Frank Ratajczak and Michael Everett with The Creation Lab, a music, video and movie production company, also spoke to teens during the daylong event Tuesday. An adviser from Modesto Junior College was on hand with information on MJC programs and how to enroll.
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Teens mingled with representatives at tables, talking about what they would need to apply for a job or sign up for military service. At the Project Yes table, Dustin Pack explained the Ceres Unified School District grant-funded training and placement program for young adults floundering in the job market.
“They graduate into kind of nothing,” Pack said. His program helps grads find a field of interest, he said. “We pay for training and place them in a job.”
Students clustered around Navy and Army recruiters. The Marine Corps had a high-bar in place for potential recruits to show they could do chin-ups. Recruiters demonstrated, chatting effortlessly as they hung with their chins well above the bar.
“I need to lose weight, a lot of weight,” sighed one senior as he left their table.
At the Costco table, Nikkole Silva was promoting memberships as well as giving basic job information.
“You do have to have a high school diploma. That’s a big deal,” Silva said.
Interim Principal Jared Mecham shepherded classes through, working on learning students’ names on his first full day of work. Mecham said he has run a variety of charter schools before and likes Fusion’s focus.
“I love working with kids, foster kids and others, that don’t have the strong parent in the background,” Mecham said. “I want to make sure they know they can be a success.”
Fusion Charter is an independent charter school of Aspiranet, which partnered with Turlock Unified. The school provides a mix of direct instruction from credentialed teachers and online learning in an independent study program. Fusion has 165 students, most of them high schoolers.