At each meeting of the San Diego County Board of Education (SDCOE), a student from the Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) program is selected to participate as a student representative. In November, the JCCS student representative was Ismael Gonzalez, a student at Phoenix Academy.
According to Ismael's teacher Kim Gudeth:
Ismael is 17 and will be 18 in March. He has five older siblings, four brothers and one sister. His family currently lives in Encinitas and Escondido. He likes working with his hands and helps his dad with his landscaping business. He is going to be graduating in the next two weeks and hopes to work with his dad full time, and then work part time while he goes to school. He plans to attend Palomar, following in his brother's footsteps, and study his General Education courses there while contemplating his major. Some possible majors are Criminal Justice, Business, and Nursing. He will successfully complete his Rehabilitation Program at Phoenix House at the end of this month. When he leaves Phoenix House, he plans to work and save money to get a place of his own and buy his own car.
November also saw the board recognize an outstanding student in the Juvenile Court and Community Schools for her progress and achievement. Kristy Ramirez, a student at Reflections School, received the Winners' Circle Award.
Kristy, whose goals are to graduate from high school and then be a chef or acupuncturist, writes:
I am 17 years old, and attending Reflections Central. In my past, I frequently ran away from home for a period of four years. Over the years the time periods I was away from home increased from 1-2 days to months at a time. In that time, I was using drugs and drinking to get me through the day, and I would stay at friends' houses that were older than me who were providing me with the drugs and alcohol. All of that got worse when I moved in with my grandmother. My mother got frustrated with my actions, and didn't know what else to do. She decided I would be better off living with my grandmother for awhile. My grandmother gave me more freedom than I knew what to do with. I went from a very strict environment that I felt I had to sneak away from all the time, to having all this freedom day and night. I would stay out late with people who, looking back, were bad influences and were taking advantage of me and my situation. One day, I was at my grandma's house, and she eventually had enough of my behavior and careless ways, and she called the police. I was taken to Juvenile Hall for the first time in my life. I admit that being out on the street was a lot scarier than being in Juvenile Hall, but being told what to do every minute of every day for 5 months and 19 days (yes, I counted), was a bigger struggle than just listening to my mother in the first place.
Looking back, I can see that the things I was doing were more harmful than helpful to my future. The things I do now, like go to school every day, complete ALL of my school work, and not hanging out with bad influences are better for my future. I look forward to coming to school every day, because I learn new things, and I learn to focus my attention on productive and positive things. I joined the Running Club, which I love, and look forward to every Tuesday and Wednesday because I get to run.
All JCCS students are eligible for nomination by teachers and selection by program principals. Selection is based on the following criteria:
- Excellent academic progress
- Triumph over personal adversity
- Academic growth and improvement
- Citizenship demonstrating positive behaviors
- Community service