The thought of what to do after high school can be daunting for any teen. For students living with a learning disability, language disorder or a health impairment such as ADHD, the transition to adulthood can seem even more intimidating. The Bend La Pine School District has been working to help students with these types of challenges explore potential career and post-high school education opportunities.

Careers Class

During the school year, students with diverse abilities at Bend High have the opportunity to take a careers class. Students hear guest speakers from a variety of local businesses discussing various career fields and job opportunities. Resume writing, budgeting, and basic skills needed to land a job are also covered.

Summer Job Club

During the summer, the district offers a career exploratory job club for students with diverse abilities at the Bend La Pine Administration offices.

Participants in the job club learn budgeting tips from NeighborImpact, health and nutrition from OSU Extension and the ins and outs of renting an apartment from a rental agency representative. Resume writing is covered and a visit to the local library is offered so students can learn about the free resources available to them.

“Our aim is to help students realize their full potential,” said Kelly Flynn, a Youth Transition Specialist at Mountain View High School who helps run the program. “Many don’t know what steps to take to land a job or what resources are available to support them.”

Summer Work Experience Program

Bend Senior High and Marshall High School students with diverse abilities have the opportunity to gain real job skills as part of a summer work experience program — a biweekly class that gives students hands-on, paid work experiences. The program is a partnership between the school district, the Heart of Oregon Corp and the local Vocational Rehabilitation office, which pays the students’ wages. Students each spend a total of 30 hours working at local businesses. Some students worked at Aspen Ridge Retirement Center doing kitchen duties, housekeeping, and offering companionship to the seniors. Some performed farming tasks at Becky’s Bountiful Barnyard, cleaned fish tanks at Aquatopia, worked in the Sudara warehouse or stocked inventory at Petco.

“The varied work experiences give students the opportunity to try different jobs to see what their interests are,” said Flynn. “They also learn job skills such as how to communicate with a supervisor and the importance of being on time. All of these district programs help our students explore and learn about opportunities they might not of known existed for them.”