Students get job certified at alternative school event

Discovery High School students recently received training to become a flagger at road projects, operate a forklift and a range of other employment opportunities during a weeklong event at the Port Orchard alternative school.

“I was extremely excited about this,” said junior Kilian Schroeder-Kelsey, 17, who sought to get certified in CPR and do substitute teaching at Early Head Start childhood preschools and daycares. “This is a very rare opportunity that a lot of kids don’t get.”

Nearly 160 students participated in the event aimed at opening employment opportunities for students.

Senior Gavin Kaiwi sought to become certified in flagging. “This opens a big door for my future. It gives me a way to do a wide variety of construction jobs. They pay well, starting at $15 an hour and going to $50 an hour.” The 18-year-old hopes to eventually do construction or road work.

To get a good paying job was an aim of Jakob Pringle, an 18-year-old senior who signed up to get certified in forklift operation. “As a startup job, I was thinking of going to work at Lowe’s,” he said. Pringle lives on rural property where he works on a tractor so working on powerful equipment is not intimidating, he said.

Pringle also signed up for CPR and flagger certifications. “I was thinking that getting these certifications would get me to be one step closer to getting a job right after graduation.”

Administration at the high school was pleased with participation. “The school and staff strongly believe that one of our goals is that students graduate from Discovery with a diploma and something additional to take out in the work world and hopefully get that one leg up. That’s where the certifications come in,” said Susan Mosby, a school counselor.

Other areas students received training included: how to obtain a food handler’s permit to work in restaurants and getting certified in Microsoft Office and Apple. Some sought assistance in completing the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery, a multiple-aptitude test that helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military.

“We had a couple of students sign up for absolutely as many (trainings) as they could. Parents were extremely excited because they realized that these certifications cost money, and we had a grant that paid for all of these certifications,” Mosby said. For example, normally, cost for flagger certification runs $140, for first aid $35-$125, and for Microsoft Office $100, Mosby said.

South Kitsap Public Education Foundation underwrote the training week with a $4,000 grant. The school district’s Career and Technical Education Department also contributed.

Discovery is an alternative high school in the South Kitsap School District. The learning center is designed to provide a supportive, flexible educational process for students with individual needs to earn a diploma and begin a successful career, officials said. The student body is made up of 230 pupils who attend classes two days a week.

“We have every segment of society on this campus,” Mosby said.

Students attend Discover for a number of reasons, Mosby said. Some work nearly full-time and need a condensed education schedule. Others find that the school’s small campus helps reduce anxiety – many classes have as few as 15 students. An on-site daycare assists students with children. Peninsula Community Health Services has a clinic for students who need medical assistance. One Heart Wild is contracted to provide no-cost mental health support.

Discovery is located at 2150 Fircrest Drive SE, adjacent to Orchard Heights Elementary School.