Students

Etiwanda High School students practice interviewing skills with business professionals.

Thirty-six Etiwanda High School students gave up six of their Saturdays this fall to listen to local business owners talk about dressing for success, showing up for work on time and what to expect during a job interview.

Soon enough, they’ll discover just how important those skills are as they begin to explore career opportunities in an increasingly complex 21st century economy.

“We want to make sure that every young person in this community is job-ready. The journey is what we’re preparing you for, but we need you to jump in the car with us,” Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren said on Nov. 16, as this first cohort of students completed a model Professional Skills Training program officials believe can help build an effective workforce of the future.

The training sessions were sponsored by Etiwanda High School, the Fontana Chamber of Commerce, the Chaffey Joint Union High School District and the Fontana Mayor’s Education Coalition, and were designed to teach students real-world employability skills.

Lyndsie McGaha, a senior at Etiwanda, said the six two-hour sessions opened her eyes to what will be expected of her as she pursues a career, possibly in business management.

“I had no idea what it would be like interviewing for a job. That was a big takeaway for me,” McGaha said. “I found it incredibly helpful, and think every school ought to do something like this.”

That’s part of the plan, program organizers say.

“The opportunity to scale this kind of training throughout our community can transform how we’re preparing young people for the workplace, while helping businesses grow by creating a strong pipeline of future workers,” said Phil Cothran, president of the Fontana Chamber, who also chairs the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board.

Mac Wolfe, the Etiwanda principal, said the lessons taught by business leaders will help students better understand what will be expected of them as they enter the workforce.

“Our commitment, as a school and as a school district, is to ensure that every student is college and career ready. The Professional Skills Training is another important step in that direction,” Wolfe said.

Dr. Mathew Holton, superintendent of the Chaffey District, praised the business community for making the program a success.

“It’s a significant investment of time and resources on their part, but the payoff will be even bigger, in terms of how their knowledge and expertise will positively impact students’ lives,” Holton said.

In addition to Cothran, business leaders who participated in the program include: Julie Kelly (Santa Fe Machine Works), Jason Zara (World Financial Group), Phillip Cothran Jr. (Goosehead Insurance), Holly Stiver (Crown Technical Systems), Amy Loera (Tio’s Mexican Restaurants), Raj Sangha (Dhindsa Group of Companies), Vanessa Ortiz (Globally Exclusive), Artina McIntosh (Empowering Success Now), Ken Lindt (Harbor Truck Bodies), Travis and Cristina Parke (California Recyclers), Ray Allard (Allard Engineering), Dr. Krupal Chhotu (Dental World) and Ernest Martinez (Wealth Legacy Group).

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