Two students expand their horizons at CCOC

October 16, 2009 — by Olivia Chock and Lillian Chen

The bell rings at the end of lunch on a typical block day. Instead of rushing to their afternoon classes hoping they won’t be tardy, sophomore Onie Wongkham and junior Dennis Rosenthal head out to the front of the school to wait for a bus to take them to San Jose for their three-hour afternoon class.

As part of a county program called the Central County Occupational Center, or CCOC, they spend the rest of the day taking career-oriented classes and earning credits for them. Wongkham and Rosenthal make up the only two students from Saratoga High in this program.

Special educational teacher Cabot Weaver said the CCOC is an alternative school where students can take classes that are more focused on a specific occupation.
This program is usually offered only to juniors and seniors who want to get some “real world experience” in a certain career, but Wongkham is an exception. Wongkham takes computer animated graphics, which is similar to CAD (computer assisted drafting). Rosenthal is studying auto body.

“Instead of only taking an hour of CAD, CCOC lets me take a class for three and a half hours,” Wongkham said, “We still get out of school at 3 p.m. though.”
CCOC students can take a range of 30 classes, including interior design, catering, mechanical engineering and forensic science.

Rosenthal already knows he wants to be a car engineer in the future, so going to CCOC helps him get a feel of how it’s really like to work in this area.
“It helps me understand the basics of a car because we are working at an auto shop, and we take cars apart and put them back together. By the end of the semester, we get to paint and fix the cars by ourselves,” Rosenthal said.

Not only is the helpful to them, it is also free for students. The class is open to adults as well, but it costs over $600 for them.

“There are about 80 people in my class. They’re all students from other schools in the area,” Rosenthal said.

Both these students recommend this program to other students if they want more hands-on experiences in a career they are interested in.
“It’s a totally different world,” Weaver said.