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GUEST COMMENTARY:Work-study program jump-starts students' future

Date: 2/22/2016 through 2/22/2016
  • Alissa Schnick

A simple idea proposed last year to Westville High School administrators has since grown into an exciting opportunity for seniors at the high school. Students were eager to jump into the workforce, and after gauging these needs, Westville developed a work program to offer these enthusiastic upperclassmen.

We had seniors in high school with enough credits to graduate. However, they still had one or two classes to take second semester to complete the requirements for their diplomas. Because of this, we allowed students to attend classes in the morning and leave a half day to complete a work study program.

The program began slowly, but eventually students realized by maintaining good grades and attendance, they could then work in a field that might benefit them in more ways than one.

"Being able to leave school and attend work has helped me in so many ways” senior Travis Bubac said. “I am earning money to help pay for college and also learning about the responsibilities of having a job, such as time management and working with others.”

Bubac started working at local fast-food chain McDonald's more than two years ago and was promoted to a manager-in-training position this past fall.

McDonald's has enrolled him in a management program, and he plans to continue his career even after high school. The management program is helping Bubac get ahead for his future as he prepares to obtain an associate’s degree post-graduation.

Another senior, McKensi Gardner, job shadows a physical therapist at Lifeworks Wellness and Rehab through a program at IU Health LaPorte Hospital. The idea was brought to her by the school’s athletic trainer, Kathleen Lopez.

“Ms. Lopez knew I was interested in physical therapy, and that is what I want to go to college for,” Gardner said. “It is not a paid position for me currently. However, the skills that I am learning are going to get me ahead of others in the future.”

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Gardner plans to attend college and study physical therapy and would like to eventually be employed in the Northwest Indiana area.

Nate Newman, a senior at Westville, just began his work-study program at the start of the new semester. Newman travels to Plymouth five days a week to work at Harmony Printing Company after a family friend told him about the position.

“I am not necessarily college bound, so working here may be something I continue to do after high school,” Newman said.

Newman stated a typical afternoon includes talking with his boss to figure out what needs to be done for the day, running a folding machine and then sorting the output of papers. Newman is paid $10 an hour and has found that more than money, he really enjoys his job.

“My advice for upcoming seniors is to get into this program and do something you like. You will find yourself working as hard as you can, and before you know it the day is over. It’s fun.”

Westville plans to continue the program and hopes more students will become interested in it.

We want to give our students opportunities. Working with local businesses will hopefully encourage students to want to stay or move back to our area.

Alissa Schnick is principal at Westville Middle and High School and a member of the READY NWI Education team. The opinions are the writer's.

Source: http://www.nwitimes.com/business/jobs-and-employment/workplace/commentary/guest-commentary-work-study-program-jump-starts-students-future/article_bd0dc6ee-cb35-5496-bed9-8ca7854f187e.html

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