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Luis Andrade

Two years ago, Luis Andrade decided to drop out of high school to work full-time. He doesn’t plan to make that decision again.

“I want to be more than just a worker. I want to be somebody important,” said Andrade, 17, who is in the alternative program at COSSA.

Andrade works at a food factory in Caldwell, making cookies and granola. Before school closures, he was working part-time, helping his parents pay the bills and earning money to work on his car.

Now Andrade is working full-time, starting around 6 a.m. most days. After work he does hours of schoolwork using his cellphone, because he doesn’t have a computer. He’d rather talk to his teachers face to face.

“This is my first time doing online stuff. I don’t really like it, but I don’t have an option,” Andrade said. “I don’t want to lose my credits.”

When Andrade was 16, he dropped out of school in Homedale to work full time at a landscaping company. A year later, he decided to enroll in COSSA’s alternative school to get back on track to graduate.

This time, he’s balancing his workload with his online classes. And he thinks it’s paid off — last week he got promoted to junior operator at the factory where he works with his mom. And he’s still working toward graduation.

“If I graduate from school, I’ll be the first in my family to do it,” he said. “That’s really important for them…and for me.”

Andrade would like to be a psychologist someday, or a lawyer.



Residents at Chloe Morgan’s nursing home are restless.

Behavioral challenges, like Alzheimer and dementia, seem to be amplified by the COVID-19 crisis, said 17-year-old Morgan, a certified nursing assistant. Residents who used to go to the YMCA or have frequent visits with family have been cut off from those activities, so staff like Morgan are coming in more often to spend time with them.

For one resident, who sometimes tries to leave the facility to see her family, that means calling her family as often as possible, since they can’t come visit. For another who loves getting her hair done, it means helping style her hair in-house.

“With the behaviors, one-on-one time seems to be the best solution,” Morgan said. “So they want to keep us as fully staffed as possible.”

Morgan’s schedule fluctuates week to week, she said, but she spends at least three days a week working shifts that start at 6 a.m.

“It is definitely scary coming home to my family every night after working, but I am doing my best to keep everything as safe as possible,” Morgan said of working during COVID-19. “I love healthcare too much to stop working because of this virus.”

Morgan, a senior at the Notus Junior/Senior High School, says she misses the in-person aspect of her classes — particularly her EMT-training — and having an established routine to balance work and school. Talking to her teachers helps, she said, and she tries to keep her own routine on track by waking up at the same time every day.

It’s a stressful time, Morgan said, but she tries to stay positive.

“We’re going through a time right now that we’re going to remember in 30 years when we’re talking to our kids and grandkids, when they’re seniors in high school, and telling them what we went through, ” Morgan said. “I think that can be kind of cool to think about.”

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