Kyle Machado, 16, a junior at Pioneer High School, admits to ditching class to hang with his friends.
Because he did this three or more times, he is considered a "habitual truant."
"The littlest thing kept me out of school," he said, while running his fingers along his Boston Red Sox ball cap. "I wouldn't come, or anything. I just followed my friends if they ditched."
Fortunately for Kyle, intervention came. Kyle and his parents met with the Student Attendance Review Board and Principal Mark VanVoorst to resolve issues Kyle had with being truant.
"We work with the family and student to offer resources and get to the issue of why this (truancy) is happening," said Jill Council, attendance officer at Pioneer High School.
"We try to find something for the kid to get connected to their school. Something to be interested in so they have pride in their school."
In the meeting, Kyle was instructed not to be with the kids he ditched with, and, after voicing interest in being a firefighter, had to interview a fire chief.
"This is my future," Kyle said. "I thought about it. And now I pay attention in class and I'm getting A's. And, well, one C. But I'm working hard."
In addition to the work done at the school, Kyle was also referred to a program offered through the Ron Wood Family Resource Center - 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents ages 12-18 - where youth and their families are given 20 internal and 20 external assets to aid the youth in growing up healthy, caring and responsible. The program is funded through a grant from the Community Council on Youth and used in conjunction with existing programs.
In just the few months the program has been in place, Michele Burke, family development coordinator at Ron Wood Family Resource Center, is pleased with the results she is seeing, and the reaction from the participants.
"This program is designed to involve the community, churches and families, for a team approach to help make our kids successful," she said.
Burke deals with high-risk kids and commends VanVoorst for caring. Asset No. 24 is "Bonding to School - Young person cares about her or his school."
"He tries to find where kids' interests are and works on developing them," she said. "Maybe that's all the kids need is to have some interest shown in them."
Ed Skudlarek is a mentor with the Mentor Center of Northern Nevada. He works on Asset No. 14 with 11-year-old Gilberto.
"I'm open to trying to make a positive difference in our community," Skudlarek said. "I think one of the places to make a difference is with the youth in our community."
Skudlarek said he and Gilberto hike, play sports, go to the library and work on school projects together to research something new in Gilberto's life. Asset No. 14 is, "Adult role models - Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior."
Skudlarek and Gilberto have been partnered for about two years.
"It's a genuine friendship," Skudlarek said. "I know it means a lot to Gilberto, and it means a lot to me. I try to help him be more active outdoors to appreciate nature, be gentler with his friends and more willing to show caring with family or friends."
Burke said youth are referred to her from the school district after receiving a request for involvement. It may be for gang involvement, depression, grades, language barrier, living unsupervised, attendance - a variety of issues. She gets requests from elementary, middle and high schools.
"We are trying to help youth become responsible adults," Burke said. "So they can possibly turn their situation around and help others. The assets are for the kids and their families to be involved, and a way to educate and connect with youth."
In the few months the program has been in place, Burke said, she is thrilled with what she is seeing.
"The response from the community has been fantastic. Many agencies are on board with it. We surround the kids with as many assets as we can to help them be successful in all they do."
• Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at email@example.com or 881-1223.
40 Developmental Assets®
1. Family support - Family life provides high levels of love and support.
2. Positive family communication - Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parents.
3. Other adult relationships - Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults.
4. Caring neighborhood - Young person experiences caring neighbors.
5. Caring school climate - School provides a caring, encouraging environment.
6. Parent involvement in schooling - Parent(s) are actively involved in helping young person succeed in school.
7. Community values youth - Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth.
8. Youth as resources - Young people are given useful roles in the community.
9. Service to others - Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week.
10. Safety - Young person feels safe at home, school, and in the neighborhood.
Boundaries and Expectations
11. Family boundaries - Family has clear rules and consequences and monitors the young person's whereabouts.
12. School boundaries - School provides clear rules and consequences.
13. Neighborhood boundaries - Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people's whereabouts.
14. Adult role models - Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.
15. Positive peer influence - Young person's best friends model responsible behavior.
16. High expectations - Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.
Constructive use of time
17. Creative activities - Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other areas.
18. Youth programs - Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs or organizations at school and/or in the community.
19. Religious community - Young person spends one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution.
20. Time at home - Young person is out with friends "with nothing special to do" two or fewer nights per week.
Commitment to Learning
21. Achievement Motivation - Young person is motivated to do well in school.
22. School engagement - Young person is actively engaged in learning.
23. Homework - Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day.
24. Bonding to school - Young person cares about her or his school.
25. Reading for pleasure - Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.
26. Caring - Young person places high value on helping other people.
27. Equality and social justice - Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.
28. Integrity - Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs.
29. Honest - Young person "tells the truth even when it is not easy."
30. Responsibility - Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.
31. Restraint - Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.
32. Planning and decision making - Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.
33. Interpersonal competence - Young person has empathy, sensitivity and friendship skills.
34. Cultural competence - Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.
35. Resistance skills - Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.
36. Peaceful conflict resolution - Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.
37. Personal power - Young person feels he or she has control over "things that happen to me."
38. Self-esteem - Young person reports having a high self-esteem.
39. Sense of purpose - Young person reports that "my life has a purpose."
40. Positive view of personal future - Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.
Find out more
WHAT: 40 Developmental Assets
WHERE: Integrated with parenting program at Ron Wood Family Resource Center, 212 E. Winnie Lane
WHO: Michele Burke
COST: Possible small fee