Elementary school serving homeless youth in South LA promotes career opportunities to students
College pennants line the walls of Crete Academy, a non-profit charter school in South Los Angeles that serves elementary school students experiencing homelessness and living in poverty. Photos of Drake embellish a central hallway along with a playful spin on lyrics from his summer hit: “Are you reading? Are you writing? Are you down with knowledge? ’Cause I need ya, and I want ya to go to college!”
But the idea of building a life beyond high school is reinforced through more than wall decorations at Crete Academy. On Monday, the school held its first Career Day Fair in partnership with the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, a charity focused on promoting research, training and education.
“It’s mostly about exposure and bringing experiences to our kids,” said Crete Academy founder Hattie Mitchell. “Oftentimes they don’t have the opportunity like affluent and middle income kids to go to events like this in the community or to learn about a variety of jobs.”
The career fair gave students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade the opportunity to discover different professions, including those in the government, culinary and financial sectors. Partner organizations for the event included the Los Angeles Fire Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, LRS Plumbing, Grilled Fraiche food truck, the Los Angeles Football Club and Banc of California.
South LA resident June Ward’s grandson, Jace, is a pre-kindergartener at Crete Academy who attended the fair. Ward said she was driving by the school when she saw the event happening in the parking lot and decided to drop in. She said she loved the event for reasons related to safety rather than career education.
“The kids need something like this,” Ward said. “They need to see who the police officers are. They need to see who the firemen are in case anything happens. They need to know who to go to.”
Students also interacted with officers at the LAPD booth. Ah’niya King, a fifth grader at Crete Academy, said she most enjoyed visiting the police officers despite wanting to be a pediatrician when she grows up. She said she liked their presentation because they brought their police dogs and shared helpful information about their work.
Of the 177 students attending Crete Academy, 31 are experiencing homelessness, said Lisa Humphrey, the public relations coordinator for the event.
Although the school just opened last year, Mitchell said they are already thinking about future growth.
“We hope to host a lot more events, resource fairs … for the homeless community, but also the community of South Central at large,” she said.