Carbon Lehigh IU 21: Academics and career choices for adjudicated youth

Steering youth toward better life choices can mean expanding their options. As the schooling provider for the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ Youth Forestry Camp in Hickory Run State Park, Carbon County, Carbon Lehigh IU 21 provides classes toward high school credits and diplomas, plus GED-equivalent diplomas, for high school boys placed through court adjudication.

Since 2015, the program has issued its first diplomas – about 25 high school diplomas and 45 GEDs. Often, students are placed in the program due to gang-related or drug offenses, but CLIU’S academic and career programs help instill higher aspirations. One student recently decided to attend college and stay away from old, toxic associations at home.

“GEDs or diplomas are a good way for the kids to be successful,” said CLIU Special Programs & Services Supervisor Daniel Fisher.

CLIU has long offered building-trades training and, in 2016, added the STREAM Factory, teaching entrepreneurial and workplace skills through a graphics-design business. From a studio equipped with large-format and t-shirt printers, laser engraver, and computers, students make products according to customer specifications and process the orders.

“We want to teach the kids the soft skills they need to run their own business,” said Fisher. “It’s giving them the opportunity to see exactly how a business operates. You have to make the customers happy.”
The students have produced golf tournament awards, plaques and mugs, and t-shirts for events. When a Pennsylvania State Police trooper picked up posters and banners for a cadet camp for special-needs children and adults, he met the students, shook their hands, and thanked them. The students were excited, and the trooper enthused that the materials were “extraordinary and far more than I imagined,” providing sponsors with “a very professional event.”

“The students I met exhibited the utmost respect, and they all did an amazing job,” wrote the trooper in a thank-you letter. “They assisted in this event being a huge success.” 

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