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Finding their passions

Posted: May 24, 2008 2:04 a.m.
Updated: July 25, 2008 5:04 a.m.

American Medical Response EMT Aaron Kanes demonstrates the spinal board on Sequoia Charter School eighth-grader, Jordan Zavala, during career day Friday.

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Huddled inside an ambulance in the school parking lot, four Sequoia Charter School students didn't let the rain dampen their spirits as they asked questions of the Emergency Medical Technicians who were there for the school's first Career Day on Friday.

Junior Jascha Dlugatch wanted to know if the EMTs had ever rescued anyone famous.

"We have some famous people up here in Santa Clarita - you'd be surprised," said Daniel Calderon, an EMT with American Medical Response. "But everyone is equal when there is an accident."

Sequoia is a small school for emotionally disturbed students and others who do not perform well in a large school setting. English teacher and Career Day coordinator Laura Luxmore wanted to give the students an opportunity to learn about different careers, and to experience the passion that people have about their careers.

"I'm hoping that the students will get motivation to pursue their passions, information to pursue their dreams and resources to help them take the next step after high school," Luxmore said.

Ninth grader Kevin Napoli said he enjoyed talking to representatives from the U.S. Marines and the National Guard.

"I was really into it because I've never really seen the medals up close before," Kevin said. "I learned that while you're in the Marines, you get a lot of money to go to college, so I'm definitely interested in it."

Adam Johnson, sports performance director for Velocity Sports Performance, told one group of students what training is needed to work with professional and Olympic athletes. The coaching staff at Velocity all have four year degrees, and some have master's degrees, he said. Staff members must also become certified and complete an extensive internship period.

"We don't let (new employees) work with any athletes until they have done it all themselves, because we want them to know what the athlete is going through," Johnson told the students.

Back at the ambulance, with the rain still coming down, Calderon decided to extend his lesson beyond careers and impart a few safety lessons to the students.

"We've had a lot of high school students die because they were drinking and driving," he told the students. "It's important for you guys to keep that in mind, how hard that is for their families, and just make good decisions."

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