More than 400 youths gathered in Murray City Park Thursday to celebrate the end of a season of hard work and to honor outstanding participants and supervisors in a federally funded youth work-education program.

In the Salt Lake and Tooele counties Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) Summer Youth Development Program, youths 15 to 21 from low-income families spend four hours a day in class and another four hours working at public agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and the Internal Revenue Service. The youths are paid $4.65 an hour to participate in the 10-week program, said spokeswoman Virginia Reno.Vlademir Yazzie, 15, was among the students selected by supervisors for special honors. Every morning for the past 10 weeks he has attended classes. Afternoons, he joins the Salt Lake City Police Department in erasing graffiti.

"It's fun," said Yazzie, who will be a sophomore in the fall. "I got to do a lot of things."

He hasn't decided on a career direction and said the youth program gave him the chance to look at different options.

Anastasia White said she wouldn't hesitate to recommend the program to any of her seven brothers and sisters. The 17-year-old worked as a receptionist's aide at the JTPA career center, where she learned how to use office equipment and improve her social skills.

She and Karla Lance, 17, agreed the schooling was particularly important.

The program made it possible for them to develop skills and find a job that paid a decent starting wage "that isn't in fast food," Lance said.

The celebration included a performance by the West High Improv Group, a fashion show, music, employment discussions, t'ai chi and kung fu demonstrations, a visit from the Sheriff's Office Canine Unit, poetry and songs and a barbecue.

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Salt Lake County Commission Chairman Jim Bradley closed the festivities with the awards ceremony.

Youths receiving awards were Yazzie, Lance, Laura Allred, Elizabeth Duran, Gilbert Labato, LaVonica Werito, Phoung Tran, Elizabeth Kinsey, Ken Ra-dak-o-vich, George Condor, Lina Aaf, David Lund, Ryan Minson, Trisha Pockrus, Daniel Russo and Adam Zullo.

Supervisors nominated for awards by participants, were: Jackie Vanetten, David Phillips, Tom Sims, Patrick Day, Pat Berckman, Jody Ellsworth, Crystal Powers, Joelle Dickson, Christy Garn, Sgt. Larry Maxwell from the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office, Mary McMillan, Diane Ward, Gary Pehrson and Lance Everill.

JTPA job training is administered by the Salt Lake County Division of Economic Development and Job Training. Most of the youth program instructors are full-time teachers during the school year, Reno said.

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