CC/V seniors absorb professional help

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In the often-lonely world of a teenager, particularly those who are unaware of possibilities, the senior seminar at Cripple Creek/Victor High School offers hope and a set of skills.

“I really didn't know anything about resumes or how to present myself in an interview,” said Darrien Carrillo, 18, speaking after a mock job interview with Kathryn Sneckner, executive director of Choices. “I am very quiet and shy but I don't come off like that in an interview”

Carrillo scored high in the mock interview with Sneckner, who was among the professional mentors in the three-week program. “You seemed very confident; didn't come off as shy at all,” said Sneckner, who pretended to be the retail manager at Gordman's in Colorado Springs. “Making eye contact and even sitting up straight, all of that carries over to me when I think about what impression you'll make on my customers and what will it mean, financially, to my bottom line.”

In fact, as a result of the seminar Carrillo scored a real job in the fall at Gordman's whose district manager, Sonia Sullivan, was also a mentor in the program and was duly impressed with Carrillo's new skills.

Loyd Mowery, who teaches English and science at the high school, initiated the seminar in conjunction with Dana Taylor at Second Chance Ranch, a nonprofit organization based in Guffey.

Taylor founded the organization to help homeless teens in southern Teller County. “Twenty-five percent of the graduating seniors at CC\V High School in 2011were homeless,” Taylor said.

From helping the homeless, Taylor expanded the program to include all of the seniors, offering help with resumes, dressing appropriately for a job interview and developing healthy relationships. “We make sure kids have everything they need to succeed,” Taylor said. “These kids have huge hearts; they inspire me to keep going with the program.”

In his mock interview with Tony Perry, president of Park State Bank & Trust, Wyatt McClure and Richard Larsen discussed their goals. While Larsen wants to obtain a college degree and be an attorney, McClure plans to earn a degree in petroleum and aerospace engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. “You will grow, adapt and find your place in the world. Don't get uptight if things change,” Perry said.

Not all students consider college the right approach to a career. “I am going to a trade school,” said Alex Hutson, who currently works at Family Dollar in Cripple Creek. “Before this seminar, I didn't know anything about financial aid for school.”

Hoping to avoid financial aid, Kayla Smith plans to work a few years to earn her college tuition while Rachel Kramp has been accepted to Colorado State University where she'll study equine science.

Commenting on the program, Perry said, “It's been amazing to communicate with such high-quality kids.”

Also participating as mentors from Teller County were: Mike Perini, Perini and Associates, who helped the students craft their resumes; Lori Gray, Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Co.; Lance Roasa, Animal Medical Center; Galene Nedjoika, Wildwood Casino; Jessica Farley, Family Dollar and Mari Smith, CC Ace Hardware.

The interviews March 13 concluded the three-week seminar.