Preparing them for the workforce

COSTA MESA — Suited up in yellow uniforms, helmets and boots, and with oxygen masks strapped to their backs, two high-school boys crawled through a wooden obstacle course blindfolded.

The exercise gave the students a taste of what it would be like as a firefighter having to escape from a caved-in structure fire.

"In a real fire, the smoke is too thick and they won't be able to see," said Mauricio Alvarez, 17, a senior at Monte Vista High School. "It's intense."

The exercise was one of many displays put on Thursday afternoon at the first community forum at the office of the Coastline Regional Occupational Program, or ROP, near Costa Mesa High School.

About 800 community members, legislators and school officials from five school districts around Orange County, including Newport-Mesa Unified and Huntington Beach Union, were invited to the event — a kind of open house — to see what students had accomplished, said Stacy Robinson, who teaches the retail sales and merchandising internship class.

"We really want to showcase student work and we want our community to recognize what our students do," said Supt. Darlene Le Fort.

Community members ate tortellini with pesto, cilantro and sun-dried tomatoes prepared by students in the culinary arts program while checking out the other booths.

The floral design students turned colorful carnations and some ribbon into a flower arrangement shaped like a poodle, and the music technology program students provided live music.

The ROP program gives mainly high school students, aged 16 and above, career experience through classes with professionals in the field they want to pursue, or are interested in exploring, Robinson said.

The program is open to adults, but students are given priority.

The program is designed to prepare students not only for the workforce, but for higher education, Le Fort said.

Three-fourths of the ROP students who graduated in 2010 went on to higher education, she said.

The programs give students an opportunity to not only learn technical skills, but personal and professional ones, Le Fort said, adding that the classes also keep students connected to school.

"They see the relevance of what they're learning and they're so interested in what they're learning," she said.

For Mauricio, participating in the fire program has allowed him to start the first step in pursuing his dreams. As a boy, Mauricio said he was always inexplicitly drawn to firefighters, and now he is preparing to become one.

"They risk their life to save other people, and that's something I would like to do," he said.

Interested in learning more about Coastline ROP?

Go to

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World