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As wildfires rage, students at firefighting magnet school in El Sereno learn the basics




Israel Quinillo, Matthew Ruiz, and Genesis Williams are part of the first class in Wilson High's new firefighting magnet school.
Israel Quinillo, Matthew Ruiz, and Genesis Williams are part of the first class in Wilson High's new firefighting magnet school.
John Rabe
Israel Quinillo, Matthew Ruiz, and Genesis Williams are part of the first class in Wilson High's new firefighting magnet school.
Wilson High Principal Luis Lopez, magnet coordinator Maribel Gonzalez, and LA Fire Captain Eddie Marez, alum of Wilson High and a teacher in the brand new firefighting magnet school.
John Rabe


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Nestled high in El Sereno, by Ascot Hills Park, shaded by towering pines, is Woodrow Wilson High School, with 1600 students and, now, three LAUSD magnet schools.

One is for police, one is for law, and - maybe most appropriate given our new normal year-round wildfire season - a brand new magnet school for firefighters ... and as I discovered Thursday, just three days into the new school year, its students are startlingly focused for high school freshmen.

15-year-old Matthew Ruiz, one of the 28 kids in the firefighting magnet, says he's been watching wildfires burning around LA. "Yeah, those fires look kind of crazy, and I want to get out there, but I'm not old enough. I can't wait til I'm older so I can actually do something."

Genesis Williams, 14, says her friends ask her, "Is it hard? And even though we've barely started class, I told them that we're putting a lot of effort in this. It's not like something little; to train to be a firefighter in the future is not a game. You have to be really serious about it."

14-year-old Israel Quinillo says his classmates say the same things to him, and he says, "It's not something to fool around with. It's really important because you see the mountains right now, some of them are burning down." And without firefighters, "we would have no one to control it."

If you even need to hear what the adults say - including one of the teachers, LA Fire Dept. Captain Eddie Marez, Wilson High Class of '91 - listen to the audio.