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Twenty Juvenile Offenders Receive High School Diplomas

Pine Grove graduation ceremony’s theme is “Life is what you make it”

PINE GROVE – Twenty youth at the Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp in Pine Grove received a high school diploma or GED today in a major step toward their rehabilitation.

Fifteen students received high school diplomas and five earned a GED or a high school equivalency.

“What’s amazing is these young men accomplished all this while battling fires throughout California during one of the busiest fire seasons on record. Remember they work all day and then go to school from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.” Pine Grove Superintendent Mike Roots said, “Getting a high school diploma or GED is vital for them getting a job down the road. To be successful in life, you have to at least get through high school to be employable. They’ve worked hard and have come a long way.”

Most of these youth offenders were involved with the destructive King fire in El Dorado County that started on September 13, and wasn’t 100 percent contained until October 9. Nearly 100,000 acres were burned, and 12 homes were destroyed. 

“Many of these graduates worked extra hard to complete their high school requirements by taking school work with them on the fire lines,” Pine Grove High School Principal Troy Fennel said. “When the students were given “off duty” time on the fires, they would return to their crew trucks, retrieve their school work and begin completing their assignments.”

During the fire season the fire camp crews logged in approximately 55,000 man hours fighting wild land fires, according to Fennel. 

Jahmon “Jay” Gibbs, School Psychologist from N.A. Chaderjian High School and founder of the nonprofit, “The Extraordinary B.E.A.T.” was the guest speaker.

Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp in Amador County screens and accepts low-risk youth from the other Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facilities. They range in age from 18-24 and typically include between 50 and 80 males at any given time. Fire training is provided by CAL FIRE and youth are certified to engage in wild land firefighting operations. Fire crews from DJJ camps perform approximately 189,000 hours of fire suppression in a normal year for the people of California.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s DJJ operates an accredited school district, which provides youth offenders with the same high- school curriculum in each of its four institutions they would receive in their home community. Youth attend school Monday through Friday. DJJ considers a diploma or GED a minimum requirement for parole consideration. Over a three-year period beginning in 2010-2011, a total of 894 youth have earned a high school diploma or GED at DJJ’s four high schools. In addition, 441 students earned Career Technical Education (CTE) certificates for vocational programs.

NOVEMBER 7, 2014

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