Real-world skills and hands-on experience

All sophomores from Taft High and Buena Vista High, more than 200 students, got a break from their English classes last week to get a whirlwind tour of the classes offered to upperclassmen by the West Side Regional Occupational Program.
ROP Director Dale Countryman explained that his site offers hands-on classes with real-world applications for students going on to college and for those who might not.
Richard House said students in his Construction class actually build homes from the ground up or Adirondack chairs or picnic tables.
Mark Fitzsimmons told students they could do everything from designing T-shirts to printing football programs to photography in his Graphic Communications class. They even take a field trip to the Chaffee Zoo in Fresno. "Fitz" as he is affectionately known, said he took the class he now teaches. After a stint in private industry, he ended up replacing the teacher he had in high school.
Tom White talked about Careers in Law Enforcement telling students a wide array of speakers come to his class from prison inmates with testimonials about how they ended up in prison to SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) team members. Students even get to try to solve fake crimes and take a trip to Alcatraz to see the former prison, explained the former prison guard/SWAT team member.
Debbie Cloud talked to students about Applied Office Skills and how she places 74 students at more than 40 work sites and how they could earn school credit for work.
Donald Thornsberry told students he would teach them skills to save their lives (proper car maintenance) and keep them from getting cheated by unscrupulous mechanics. He teaches students how to use computers to diagnose car problems and gave them a good website for information on jobs:
Secretary Korina Rawls told students about the restaurant in Maricopa where students serve lunch and even gave them a sample of chili. That class, taught by Patty Farmer, is the only two-period class.
Karen Mitchell told students that they could work in the student store and even make sweatshirts in her Fashion/Retail Merchandising class.
Taft sophomore Jennifer Guzman said, "My dream is to become a fashion designer and the ROP Fashion class is a good way to start. I like the Foods class because I really want to learn how to make delicious foods."