Mark Blaser, Superintendent at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, speaks at the Mary B. Perry High School graduation.

Mark Blaser, Superintendent at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, speaks at the Mary B. Perry High School graduation.

Story by Joe Orlando, CDCR Public Information Officer

Forty–three youth from Mary B. Perry high school at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility recently received their high school diplomas.

This year’s valedictorian was Patrick A. Reddick and the salutatorian for the graduating class of 2015 was Cameron N.Chisem.

“I would like to help and encourage others with things I have to offer,” said Reddick. “I now see that difficult things take a long time and impossible things take a little longer, but nothing is impossible.”

“We provide our students with hope and skills to embrace the future,” Principal Art Westerfield said. “We believe that a high school diploma or a General Education Degree (GED) increases our students’ opportunities to build a positive future for themselves, their families and their communities.”

This year’s keynote speaker was Patrick Jefferson, Executive Vice President of Student Learning at Ventura College.

“We have to think outside the box and advocate for innovation and new ways of learning while serving students in and out of the classroom,” said Jefferson, a lifetime educator.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) operates an accredited school district, providing students with the same high school curriculum in each of its four institutions they would receive in their local community. Youth attend school Monday through Friday. DJJ considers a diploma or a GED a minimum requirement for parole consideration.

Each school provides a core curriculum meeting the content standards for California public high schools. Each student meets with his or her education adviser upon entry and monthly thereafter, to review their education plan. Modifications to the student’s high school graduation plan are made at least every six months if necessary.

Since 2010, 935 youth have earned their high school diplomas or GEDs at one of DJJ’s four high schools. During that same time, 614 youth earned nationally-recognized certificates in vocational training.