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Shasta helps students start thinking about careers
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Tracy Van de Pol, right, of Mimosa Spa and Salon also attended Shasta School. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

Leticia El Almani took a unique path towards her goal.

The one-time Shasta School product aspires to become a professor in English Literature.

Credit her tenacity for getting into California State University, Stanislaus via Modesto Junior College. She earned a high school equivalency certificate from Lindbergh School in 2010 after missing graduation at Manteca High some two years earlier.

“I sat in the bleachers watching my friends walk during graduation,” recalled El Almani, who got the boot from school after ditching classes once too many times.

An honor student, she started off on the right path, taking AP courses, tutoring for Give Every Child A Chance’s afterschool program, and writing sports for her high school newspaper.

El Almani also struggled, particularly in Algebra. She discovered she had dyslexia.

Those were among the many obstacles she overcame.

A hockey fan – she also freelanced stories, covering the San Jose Sharks and the nearby Stockton Thunder – El Almani had dreams of becoming a sports scribe.

“I wanted to get into sports journalism but now I’m going against the grain. I was encouraged (at CSU-Stanislaus) to challenge myself,” she told seventh- and eighth- grade students at Shasta’s third annual career days on Friday.

Principal Audrey Greene hopes El Almani’s never-quit attitude can further serve as an inspiration.

“They’re also seeing someone (at career days) who was also student here,” she said.

Come next year, many of the eighth-grade students will also attend MHS. It’s there they’ll look to develop an academic foundation that calls for a strong core curriculum.

To further assist students, Manteca Unified adopted career path courses in Agriculture; Arts, Media and Entertainment; Engineering Technology; Health Careers; Home Economics Careers and Technology; Industrial Technology; and Public and Human Services.

Many of these classes have been articulated with Delta College.

“We are trying to point them in the right direction” said Shasta teacher Jacqueline Kron, who helped coordinate career days.

The day kicked off with an assembly inside the school’s multi-purpose room also known as the Hornet’s Nest.

Since the first day of school, Shasta students have received guidance and instruction in career exploration, according to Kron.

“We have stressed that school sets the foundation for future employment opportunities,” she added.

Furthermore, students came dressed for success, wearing their Sunday best for the occasion. Kron estimated 85 percent of the seventh and eighth graders participated.

 She had 15 speakers scheduled, including Manteca firefighters, a U.S. Army representative, Shannon Breckenridge (school counselor), Judy Casetta (employment preparation), Veronica Casillas (physician assistant), Charlie Halford (Boys & Girls Clubs director and retired police chief),  Sah’neya Fryer (medical assistant), and Tracy Van de Pol (cosmetology), to name a few.

Van de Pol also attended Shasta.

For eighth graders, career day was part of their trimester writing project.

Seventh-grade students also benefited, with their career day report also serving as a warm-up for next year’s writing project, Kron said.

In addition, each student put together a portfolio for language arts.

“I want to become a pediatrician,” said eighth-grader Melany Lugo.

Luis Flores is also thinking career.

“I would like to become an interior designer,” he said.

The Shasta staff is already looking ahead.

“Each year, we’re thinking of other things to do to make (career day) better,” Kron said.