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Byline: Amy Raisin raisin, in botany and cooking
raisin, dried fruit of certain varieties of grapevines bearing grapes with a high content of sugar and solid flesh. Although the fruit is sometimes artificially dehydrated, it is usually sun-dried.
  Staff Writer

AGOURA HILLS - Fourteen-year-old Kelly Roper carefully peeled a mailing label from a waxed-paper sheet, centered it on a blank envelope, then sat back in obvious satisfaction.

Clerical work viewed as mundane (jargon) mundane - Someone outside some group that is implicit from the context, such as the computer industry or science fiction fandom. The implication is that those in the group are special and those outside are just ordinary.  by many teens is a challenge for Kelly, a cheerful redhead who struggles with tasks that require dexterity. But thanks to a program taught by Rhonda Litt, Kelly and 10 other special- education students at Agoura Hills High School are learning to perform tasks that are a pathway to their independence.

``I feel good and proud when I finish,'' said Kelly, who loves to play volleyball volleyball, outdoor or indoor ball and net game played on a level court. An upright net, 3 ft (or 1 m) high, the top of which stands 8 ft (2.43 m) from the ground for men, 7 ft 4 1/8 in (2.  and dance to music videos.

Litt's students do clerical work at the school and for local businesses at no charge. In 1999, the first year of the program, the teens prepared 10,000 summer camp brochures for mailing.

``These kids are eager to work - they love the responsibility,'' said Litt, whose students are afflicted af·flict  
tr.v. af·flict·ed, af·flict·ing, af·flicts
To inflict grievous physical or mental suffering on.

[Middle English afflighten, from afflight,
 with Down syndrome Down syndrome, congenital disorder characterized by mild to severe mental retardation, slow physical development, and characteristic physical features. Down syndrome affects about 1 in every 730 live births and occurs in all populations equally. , autism autism (ô`tĭzəm), developmental disability resulting from a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain. It is characterized by the abnormal development of communication skills, social skills, and reasoning.  and other developmental disorders developmental disorder Psychiatry An impairment in normal development of language, motor, cognitive and/or motor skills, generally recognized before age 18 which is expected to continue indefinitely and constitutes a substantial impairment Etiology Mental . ``It's important stuff they're doing, critical stuff for local merchants.''

The special-education students share physical education and some other classes with the rest of the student body. But during their daily sessions with Litt, they slip into working mode and they are expected to follow a plan.

``They're much more focused during this time,'' Litt said. ``They work on sharing space, not pushing, being helpful and working together. They learn to be neat and take pride in their work. It gives them self-esteem.''

The free service Litt and the students provide - and the superior job they do - has some businesses feeling as though they owe the students something more.

``It's an incredible trade-off. It almost leaves me feeling like I haven't done enough,'' said Lynn Pedroza, general manager at Cottontail Ranch Cottontail Ranch was a legal, licensed brothel that opened in October 1967. Located near the intersection of U.S. Route 95 and Nevada State Route 266 known as Lida Junction, in Esmeralda County, Nevada. It is also known as the Cottontail Ranch Club. , a popular sleep-away camp that used Litt's class for a mailing.

``For us it would be a mundane thing, but for these kids, they're doing a great service,'' Pedroza said. ``They did a fabulous job, and we're looking to give them more business.''

Litt sent out letters to local businesses explaining that her students were looking to help with everything from collating packets to painting furniture. Since September, a local dental office, bank and a bicycle club have employed her students.

Jason Archuleta, 18, graduated from the program and received his high school diploma A high school diploma is a diploma awarded for the completion of high school. In the United States and Canada, it is considered the minimum education required for government jobs and higher education. An equivalent is the GED.  in June. He now is a paid employee at Agoura High and credits Litt's program with teaching - and inspiring - him.

``It helped me to be on time and to work with other people,'' said Archuleta. ``Now I make copies and help out around school. And I coach cross-country and track.''

Eric Eychner, another 18-year-old, summed up what the work program means to him.

``I think it's nice. I like Miss Litt,'' said Eric, a top-notch bowler who has a best score of 245. ``I think it's important for me to learn how to do that stuff.''

For information about employing Litt's students, call Agoura High at (818) 889-1262.




Shawn Afradi, foreground foreground - (Unix) On a time-sharing system, a task executing in foreground is one able to accept input from and return output to the user in contrast to one running in the background. , and Clayton Perry prepare envelopes as part of an Agoura High Hills program that teaches clerical skills to special-education students.

Joe Binoya/Special to the Daily News
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 26, 2000

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