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October 21, 2011
By José Estrada, an instructor at SIATech Long Beach

Every student has a different story to tell, and this month we highlight the story of Warren Cornelio.

Warren is one of the most unique people you will ever meet. He has a personality that is fun, upbeat, and positive. But it was not always as upbeat and positive during the beginning of his SIATech High School experience.

If you ask him about his first day of class, he probably will not remember because he was sleeping, not doing work, and he did not listen to directions. Warren's story begins when he was in elementary school. Living with his mother, grandma, and sister, he described himself as a troublemaker. He says, "I did whatever I wanted."

Growing up with a hardworking single mother who worked throughout most of the day, Warren felt that he could do whatever he pleased and no one would know of his trouble-making events. This led him to a lot of trouble. In high school, he attended class twice a week and he ditched classes almost every day. He describes this time as a moment in his life where his vision for his future was blurry.

His school sent him to a continuation school where things did not change. He continued to be absent, late, defiant, and influenced other students to do badly. When the light bulb turned on in his head, it was too late. He was 18 years old and his school gave him three options: Job Corps, military, or a GED program.

Warren had a hard decision to make. He chose to come to Long Beach Job Corps. Once here, he was enrolled in SIATech High School. He describes the change, "I was scared because I did not know what to expect from this high school." He continues, "After a few weeks, I loved the high school because I never felt that I was left behind." One of the advantages of SIATech High School for Warren was the model of a self-paced curriculum. He added that with the constant help of teachers and their mentorship, he is able to envision different present and future goals. Today, Warren is a different student than his past.

Warren is one of those students you will never forget. Every day, he comes to class with a smile and an outburst of positive energy. It is great to see that we can make a difference in the life of students like him. We are proud of him, and he will make a great addition to any fire fighting team when he completes his goal of becoming a fire fighter.

SIATech (pronounced SIGH-a-tek) is an award-winning network of charter schools focused on dropout recovery. SIATech is a WASC-accredited high school that operates in partnership with the federal Job Corps and Workforce Investment Act programs on eight campuses throughout California. The school serves 100% low-income and previously out-of-school youth. SIATech excels at identifying student strengths and individualizing instruction to meet each student's needs and goals. The school's safe and caring setting enables students to take charge of their learning and obtain the tools they need for lifetime success, whether it is at their chosen career or further education. For more information on SIATech, watch this short video or visit the SIATech website.

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