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Second-chance lessons at Bowman career fair

Education: Alumni encourage students at annual high school event

Posted: October 23, 2010 9:27 p.m.
Updated: October 24, 2010 4:30 a.m.
 

As a struggling student at Canyon High School, Chante Catt said she chose to be homeless rather than stay with her parents, who had her when they were very young and couldn’t care for her properly.

After missing most of her classes at Canyon, she began attending Bowman High School, where she was given a second chance.

“My parents weren’t there for me when I was young, but luckily my teachers stepped in to help me,” said Catt, who graduated from the school in 1995. 

She now owns a successful Los Angeles animal-care business and returns every year to the continuation school’s career day. She was there Friday, trying to help struggling teens find their way.

Bowman has been holding the annual career day for more than 15 years with the help of educator Mike Nugent and Principal Robin Geissler. 

When Career Day at Bowman began, it was just a half-day program with five speakers, Nugent said. Now, the program is a full-day event that features more than 30 speakers, including such employers as ITT Tech, MUD Makeup Designory and the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

“Motivation is the key,” Nugent said. “These kids aren’t dumb, they just need an opportunity. What Bowman does best is reconnect them and motivate them to finish high school.”

Many of the students that come to Bowman are missing credits and in danger of not graduating at their previous schools.

Nico DiNardo, a Bowman senior, came to Bowman from Saugus High School with what he called “the wrong mindset” and labeled himself as a “slacker.”

He will graduate in only a few weeks and credits the teachers at Bowman with putting him on the right track.

“Mike (Nugent) goes out of his way for us,” he said. “These teachers actually really care.”

Bowman students enjoy career day and the opportunity it gives them to explore careers that they may not have known about.

“Career day wasn’t like this at my (other) high school,” says senior Chelsea Freeman.

Many Bowman students like Chelsea said they feel like they have been given a second chance. The school has a network of teachers and professionals who are dedicated to giving them that chance.

With more than 310 graduates last year, Bowman has a 95-percent graduation rate, and more than 70 percent of its graduating seniors move on to enroll in junior college or college.

The school’s help is what Catt needed.

She went on to speak in front of the Santa Clarita City Council to advocate for the opening of the homeless shelter here in Santa Clarita. She received an award from former Mayor Carl Boyer, recognizing her activism in the community. 

“Bowman gives you what you need,“ Catt said, “if you just show initiative.”

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