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High school seniors get employability certificates during special ceremony

May 31, 2001|By LAURA MACKENZIE, Staff Writer

IMPERIAL — Business members, community leaders, educators and students met Wednesday for the presentation of the employability certificates at the Imperial Valley Business/Education Coalition's year-end meeting.

Held at the Plaza de la Cultura in the Imperial Valley Expo, the meeting honored the county's high school seniors who were receiving their employability certificates.

Students from the county's eight high schools were honored at the ceremony.

Ron Schoors, school to career coordinator for the Imperial County Office of Education, said the certificate was created "with input and in partnership with the Valley's business community … of things they need to see to be employed by the business community."

Schoors said the employability certificate is found only in the Imperial Valley.

Schoors said the coalition has 600 members from the business and education sectors.

He said students learn about the four-year certificate and its requirements during their freshman orientation to high school.

To be eligible for the certificate, students must meet the certificate's criteria all four years of high school.


The criteria includes a 2.0 grade-point average, 95 percent attendance, competency in reading and writing on the SAT 9 test, and extra curricular and volunteer work.

Students are selected based on their high school transcripts and SAT scores.

Students are also required to put together a portfolio and conduct a practice interview with a business member.

"It measures a well-rounded graduating senior," said Rick Johnson, school-to-career steering committee chairman.

He added, "We don't issue that to everyone."

Said Schoors: "It prepares them to go into the business world."

Imperial High School recipient Heather Jackson, 17, spoke about the steps required of the students to earn the certificate during the ceremony.

She said a benefit to the certificate is the portfolio she had to put together of her experience, resume and reference letters.

"I can take this portfolio wherever I go, and it can be easily revised and improved," said Heather.

Keynote speaker Martin Madden, chief executive officer of U.S. Data Source, urged the students to set goals, know their strengths and weaknesses and to have positive attitudes.

He encouraged students to be adaptable to change and to find a mentor to help guide them.

"Opportunity is no limitations," said Madden.

"If you abide by the law, this world is yours. There's nothing to stop you except yourself," he said.

Madden said his company is expanding to the Imperial Valley and he has been impressed by the employees he's hired so far.

"What I see in your community is something I haven't seen in over 30 years," he said.

Central High School recipient, Peter Barthelme, 17, said having earned the certificate "takes me to another level."

Peter said he has already used the certificate in his search for a summer job.

His advice to freshmen seeking the certificate is to "be prepared. Be ready for anything."

Melissa Rebik, 17, from Brawley Union High School, said, "It sums up all the things we've had to achieve and go through in high school."

Other Brawley seniors agreed.

Leleiana Moore, 18, said the certificate is "very significant because I know I can go out there and be prepared. I know what the employers are looking for."

Robert Fernandez, 17, added, "It means a lot, especially for people going out of the Valley. It shows how the community can come together to do something good for the high-schoolers."

The 172 students honored each received a lapel pin and certificate at the ceremony.

Staff Writer Laura MacKenzie can be reached at 337-3442.

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