Firefighters Mentor Middle Schoolers

A Long Beach Fire Department mentorship program that serves at-risk seventh and eighth graders graduated its first class of twelve students recently.

The Rockett Academy, named after Long Beach fire engineer Darren Rockett, is a year-long program in which students visit various fire stations weekly for mentorship and guidance from firefighters.

Rockett, who was fatally injured in the line of duty in 2011, had worked for more than a decade to place at-risk youth in mentorship situations.

The academy was formed with the help of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, City Prosecutor Doug Haubert and the Long Beach Unified School District.

“Each of these students has worked hard and learned a lot this year,” said Long Beach Fire Chief Mike DuRee. “I’m proud of the students for completing this program, and I’m proud of the firefighters who have helped mentor these kids, often donating their own time and money to make this inaugural program a success.”

All of the program’s graduates maintained a required GPA or improved upon it, and a total of one discipline infraction occurred throughout the school year, down from 14 total infractions in the previous year for the group of students.

“At their graduation, it was evident how much students have been impacted,” said LBUSD Director of Student Support Services Erin Simon. “The effect of it was palpable.”

This year’s group of 12 is expected to nearly double next year, with additional excursions to events like Clippers and Dodgers games.

“The school district is profoundly pleased with the level of support demonstrated by the Long Beach Fire Department,” Simon said. “Local firefighters were able to help students build school and community connectedness while encouraging academic achievement.”

DERON