Local high school celebrates CSUN gang prevention program

Ashlee Shapiro

At-risk students and CSUN’s Mentoring to Overcome Struggles and Inspire Courage mentors were acknowledged for their commitment to end gang violence June 17 during the second annual Peace Conference at the Jack London Continuation High School.

“This type of program is for the at-risk youths, to empower them and provide them with the skills they need to succeed,” said Bibi Caspari, director of Forward Step.

MOSAIC mentors asked students and community members at the event to support the continuation school’s expansion of its Peace Academy for Fall 2007 to accommodate 250 students rather than 100 students.

The Peace Academy teaches students to get along with each other in an effort to end rival gang violence.

MOSAIC serves as a distraction for students who come from bad environments, said Pablo Sanchez, program mentor.

Sanchez started out in a last chance high school when he was 13 years old.

“I started out in one of these programs called Jeopardy and that influenced me to get involved with MOSAIC,” said Sanchez, a recent CSUN graduate who has worked at Jack London for three semesters.

“I work well with the staff and I’ve established positive relationships with the students here,” he said.

Angela Cleveland, principal of Jack London High School, said students should take responsibility for their lives and need to control their own destinies.

She said she is reassured knowing that the community cares about at-risk students.

The continuation school teaches students the core curriculum of academics and social skills.

“People look at continuation schools as a bad thing, but this is what saved me,” said Jessika Moreno, junior at Jack London.

“It’s a lot different here than other continuation high schools because the staff and teachers care about us. I’ve been here for one-year and I don’t want to leave,” she said.