Partner Spotlight: Pilarcitos High Principal Bechar

yli is My Story

“I value Pilarcitos High School’s partnership with YLI and hope it continues for many years to come.” -Rajan Bechar, Pilarcitos High Principal

Rajan Bechar wants his students to build 21st century workforce skills, and he thinks leadership development is the way. As principal of  Pilarcitos High School, an alternative school in Half Moon Bay, Bechar creates an alternative setting to meet the unique academic needs of every student. He advocates for Pilarcitos High at the district level, is a strong ally to students, and his first and primary purpose is to assist students in earning a high school diploma and building a plan for post secondary education.

Pilarcitos High is proud to have teaching, counseling, and administrative staff who truly care about students and go above and beyond to support students with unique challenges. With a brand new campus, they offer 20 unique opportunities for students to engage in service learning and are fully committed to implementing and practicing Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support strategies schoolwide.

Youth Leadership Institute has partnered with Pilarcitos High since January 2016 to establish a group for young people to be more engaged in their community. Principal Bechar was “very excited that students could learn 21st century skills such as critical thinking and collaboration, while developing real life skills such as public speaking and making a positive impact in their community.”

The unique aspect of this partnership is that students who participate in this Youth Leadership Course gain the opportunity to earn credits toward graduation. The YLI group meets and continues to meet weekly for an hour to learn leadership skills, youth-led action research, and how to implement community solutions. We commend Principal Bechar’s dedication to opening opportunities for youth that simultaneously support their academic trajectory. Three students in 2016 benefitted from this opportunity, and we look forward to 6 young people benefiting from this in 2018.The true fruitions of YLI’s partnership include partnering with young people such as Michelle Buzbee. Michelle graduated from Pilarcitos and went on to become a member of the SamTrans Citizens Advisory Committee and a YLI staff member.

In 2016, YLI participants ignited our Transportation Equity Allied Movement project, created research tools, implemented and gathered data, and presented throughout the county on Half Moon Bay’s findings and recommendations to improve public transportation along the coast of San Mateo County. These efforts led to partnering with SamTrans, San Mateo County’s public transit agency, to work together to identify and propose solutions to increasing youth ridership. Please visit here to learn more about SamTrans Youth Mobility Plan. On Wednesday June 7th, 2017 YLI will co-present on the opportunities and outcomes of this plan, which includes continuing to partner with YLI to pilot a Mobility Youth Ambassador Program. 

Principal Bechar recommends this partnership to his fellow colleagues and networks, and we thank him for believing in our mission and vision to create communities that invest in youth to lead community change.


The Pilarcitos YLI Chapter is made possible through generous funding by Get Healthy San Mateo County.