Students in two youth programs within the Tehachapi Unified School District are actively participating in the community, developing career skills and jump-starting their training for career pathways.

More than 50 students are involved with both programs, and an update on them was presented at the regular school board meeting May 7.

Teen CERT

Tehachapi High School boasts a start-up Teen Community Emergency Response team, whose members undergo the same training the established Tehachapi CERT team completes. This marks the first year for the group.

“I think it's extremely important because nowadays anything can happen. You can prepare for an event that people are not ready for,” sophomore Esther Clark said.

Junior Aaron Hempel said, “We help all around campus, go on field trips, prepare for medical emergencies, and if something happens we can help.”

Students are learning the value of preparing for a disaster by completing 20 hours of training from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They learn to assist people during natural disasters and learn how to treat wounds and prepare first aid packets.

“It prepares them for emergency response careers. I've had numerous students go into firefighting, become police dispatchers and go into medical careers,” said Teresa Coatlalopeuh, the teacher at Tehachapi High School who is leading students in the CERT program.

She added, “If we trust students to stand up and participate, they will never let you down. You give them a challenge and they will do it.”

WorkAbility program

Special education students who wish to receive training, but need assistance in career exploration, work experience and communication skills have the WorkAbility program.

Students 14 to 22 years old may participate and learn the importance of developing good communication, being on time, working well with others and learning safety at work.

A Kern Adult Education Block Grant provides more than $100,000 for educator pay and program needs.

“A lot of jobs want you to have experience and I’m getting that and it’s a way to get paid,” said student Johnathian Evola, who works at Tractor Supply.

More than 30 local Tehachapi businesses in the retail and food industries welcome students to learn on-the-job skills.

Brittany McCalman, WorkAbility coordinator for TUSD said, “We are trying to encourage a positive work attitude. We always get new businesses and they don’t have to pay them. The students are covered with insurance and paid through the grant.”