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Trade Tech High Helping Reluctant Learners Succeed In Vista

The first graduating class at Trade Tech High School in Vista is nervously excited about the future. The charter school serves an economically disadvantaged group of mostly hispanic and white students. It combines college prep courses with on the job training in the building, construction, and engineering fields.

KPBS Evening Edition

Trade Tech Highs First Graduating Class

Aired 5/14/12 on KPBS News.

North County Charter School's First Graduating Class

From putting the final touches on a house to figuring out how to generate energy using windmill power. Trade Tech's Class of 2012 won't have to chose between college and work, because they're already preparing for both.

"I'm pursuing both ways, because I have an internship and I work at American Bobcat."

Trade Tech senior Dalia San Miguel wants to be the first in her family to graduate from college.

"This like future plan that I have for me, I don't think I would have it, if it wasn't for Trade Tech," she said.

San Miguel is one of 20 seniors getting ready to graduate next month. She credits the schools smaller class sizes -about 18 students for every teacher- for keeping her on track.

"I'm a slow learner and I'll learn things but mainly when its one-on-one," she said. She's even gained a new perspective on what its like to build a home from scratch. "Its totally different, that's hard work, very hard work, but its very rewarding," San Miguel said.

In fact the construction industry is predicted to be among the top 10 sources of jobs in the near future, according to the U.S Department of Labor.

"Learning about trades is what caught my attention," says Lius Berl Raffi. He was one of the first students at Trade Tech High when it opened in Vista in 2008.

"I'm into electrical right now, but we do learn plumbing, electric stuff, carpentry, I just want to be an all around guy," he said.

Bryan O'Donnell the schools principal says most of the senior class will go to college in the fall.

And five seniors have been hired by industry partners with support from scholarships. "In this economy their going to walk into a job that pays $14 to $18 an hour, in a field that they chose and have immediate employment at a working wage," O'Donnell said. With 100 percent of its seniors passing the California High School Exit Exam, Trade Tech further distinguished its program this year by attaining an API growth of 159 points, the highest of any California charter high school.

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