Chad Hare - scheduled to graduate from Durango High School in 2008 - dropped out after his sophomore year hoping to get
his bearings because he knew couldn't do two more years of seat time.
"A traditional school system and teaching style isn't for everyone," Hare, 20, said Thursday. "I don't know what I
wanted - maybe a more hands-on approach or maybe more one-on-one." Six months of menial labor at the YMCA in Estes
Park taught him that it's an unforgiving world.
"I signed up for the Job Corps, which is the best thing that ever happened," Hare said. "It was a life-changing
experience." The Job Corps, funded through the U.S. Department of Labor, trains 16- to 24-year-olds for a variety of
trades, office- or health-related careers or higher education. Room and board are paid, and participants receive
pocket money while training and a one-time transitional stipend when they graduate.
Participants can earn a general equivalency diploma or a high school diploma and get a driver's license through the
Babette Kimble, a counselor with the recently reopened Job Corps office in Cortez that covers Southwest Colorado, said education is of utmost importance in today's scramble to find employment.
Kimble contacts businesses, schools and human-service agencies to find participants and then counsels graduates such
Hare studied at the Job Corps center in Collbran near Grand Junction, graduating in July with certificates in welding
and office administration technology. He also got a high school diploma.
"Initially, I intended to go to Denver to work on oil rigs - up to 80 hours a week at $20 to $30 an hour," Hare said.
"But then I enrolled at Fort Lewis College, where I'm a first- semester freshman." Eventually, he will choose either
a career in environmental studies or political science, Hare said.
"I dropped out of school, but I think I came out ahead of some of those who graduated from Durango High School," Hare
said. "I got my education and learned two trades." Hare is a prime Job Corps success story, Kimble said.
"A good Job Corps fit is a life-altering experience," Kimble said.
She sizes up candidates primarily on attitude.
"They have to be ready to hit the ground running," Kimble said. "There's no time to deal with candidates if they are
resistant or have a big attitude." Job Corps recruits in Southwest Colorado can choose among training centers in the
state or in Utah or Montana, Kimble said.
Careers run the gamut, Kimble said. Trainees can choose several options in the industrial trades - including
tile setter, electrician, cement finisher, plumber or auto mechanic; dental or medical assistant, computer technician