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California Conservation Corps Helps O’side Teen Graduate from High School Instead of School of Hard Knocks

Oceanside CA— Cody Carpenter of Oceanside knew about the California Conservation Corps’ motto when he signed up- “hard work, low pay, miserable conditions… and more!” It is the “and more” that has him feeling on top of the world. After dropping out of high school, Cody has just earned his high school diploma through the California Conservation Corps.

Photo courtesy: California Conservation Corps

“A year ago I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. Now I have a pretty good idea. It’s exciting to know what I’m going to be able to do five or 10 years down the road,” said Carpenter.

He received his diploma at a statewide CCC high school graduation ceremony in Sacramento last week, and this Friday will participate in the local graduation ceremony at the CCC center in Vista, CA where he is based.

Life has dealt Carpenter some big challenges in his 19 years. He was removed from the custody of his mother when he was eight, sent to live with his grandparents out of state where home and school life were difficult. There was time in a group home followed by a brief stint in the military. Moving back in with his grandparents wasn’t an option and he had no idea where his mother was.

Intense Google searches helped him track her down in California. She had regained control of her life and offered him a roof over his head while he put his own life back together. After a few attempts at day labor, he joined the California Conservation Corps which offered him minimal pay for a year of service doing energy conservation work for local schools. The best part, Carpenter says, is the CCC offered an opportunity for him to earn his high school diploma by attending a charter school after his work-day was done.

“It’s not easy for them,” said Bruce Saito, the CCC’s executive director. “They work hard in the classroom, and this is after a long day of physical work. But, they leave the CCC with solid work experience and a high school diploma.”

The CCC Vista Center partners with the Urban Corps of San Diego Charter School to provide high school curriculum to corpsmembers. Carpenter completed several credits to earn his diploma and is now focused on leveraging his work with the CCC to land him not just a job, but a career.  “If it wasn’t for the CCC, I don’t know where I’d be! My goal now is to get promoted, stay another year and get scholarships they offer here so that I can go to college and become an electrician for an energy company.”