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Tacoma Public Schools Superintendent Carla Santorno speaks at the 2017 Summer Jobs 253 end-of-year event on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017.


TACOMA, Wash. – Carla Santorno will never forget those peanut bags.

The Superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools delivered the closing remarks at Wednesday night’s Summer Jobs 253 end-of-year event, and reminded the students in the crowd that everybody has to start somewhere.

Santorno recalled her days living in Colorado and working at Lakeside Amusement Park, where she was tasked with filling small bags with peanuts to be sold for something like 10 cents apiece. It was monotonous work, Santorno said, so she and her coworkers had to find ways to make it more entertaining for themselves.

“What I learned,” Santorno said, “is that you have to persevere.”

Perseverance was a prominent theme throughout Wednesday’s ceremony at Stadium High School in Tacoma. Chris Sieg, Tacoma Public Schools’ Worksite Learning Coordinator for Entrepreneurship and Career Choices, shared his personal tale of perseverance through setbacks in his own career.

“It’s the ones who persevere who become successful, no matter what they do,” Sieg said.

John Page, Director of Career and Technical Education for TPS, also spoke of the importance of following through.

“By being a completer,” Page said, “it makes you a part of this greater economy.”

WorkForce Central is proud to have been a Summer Jobs 253 sponsor for the fifth year. The program is administered by the City of Tacoma in partnership with WorkForce Central, the REACH Center, Tacoma Public Schools, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services/Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and many others.

The program, created in 2013 behind the leadership of Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, is open to Tacoma Public Schools incoming Students receive their certificates at the 2017 Summer Jobs 253 end-of-year event.juniors and seniors. The program offers students 96 hours of paid work experience at an hourly rate of $11.15, up to two high school credits, an academic completion bonus and basic work-readiness skills.

More than 200 students completed the program this summer, and 76 local employers provided those students with internships – opportunities that helped them gain valuable, paid work experience while also earning high school or college credit.

Page told the crowd some of the ways students spent their hard-earned money, such as buying clothing and jewelry for their mothers, or saving it for the future. One student who completed the program, Lillie Webb from Oakland High School, shared a story of personal hardship, struggle and self-doubt – but said participating in Summer Jobs 253 gave her newfound confidence and a more positive outlook on life. She’s even going on a mission trip to Haiti in October.

At one point during the ceremony, students were asked to raise their hand if their summer internship was the first job they’d ever had. For most, it was.

That is exactly why WorkForce Central sponsors Summer Jobs 253: it provides high school students with a platform and skillset on which they can build their careers.

WorkForce Central strengthens the Pierce County economy by identifying skill gaps between jobseekers and employment opportunities, fostering data-driven decision making, and connecting workforce development partners into a cohesive, collaborative and effective network.