BRASHER FALLS — St. Lawrence Central High School will introduce a new program in the fall to give seniors the opportunity to gain real-world work experience.
The Senior Career Academy will allow selected seniors to connect with local businesses in the Brasher Falls, Potsdam and Massena area to gain this experience.
Christian A. Normile, professor of world history and geography, said students who take programs at the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services graduate with real-world experience, and the Senior Career Academy would have the same objective.
“We have a lot of students taking advanced level courses. But we also have a group that has taken all possible courses. They need their social studies, their English and their physical education, but they took it all. So what do we do for them? he said. “It’s an opportunity to take this group and put it to work and find a place for it. It’s not going to be for everyone. We think we can hit a group that we may have missed the last two years.
Director Kristen L. Zender said this year’s juniors must apply to enter the program as seniors.
“We interviewed our current juniors, so we spoke to eligible students,” she said. “They will have a recommendation form and an application that they have to fill out.”
Students will also participate in practical interviews.
“The goal is that one day when they sit down for an interview, they can answer the question, ‘Why should I hire you?’ and they’ll have real-world experience.” Well, the reason you should hire me is because I’ve worked well with people and I’ll give you an example,” Mr. Normile said. “When you’re first starting out, you don’t have examples. All you have is, ‘Well, I’m good with people. I don’t want to elaborate. I’m just good with people.’
“It’s not necessarily about how they’re doing because obviously we want to develop those skills,” Ms Zender said. “We don’t necessarily expect them to have them now. But it’s about being able to commit to our program. They may have jobs they don’t like. It’ll be OK. It’s part of the experience. It’s just what they get out of it and that they have the skills and the drive to get something done, even if they don’t like it.
In the past, the district has hosted Coming of Age Day and other opportunities to provide authentic real-world experiences, and the Senior Career Academy builds on that.
“The idea of the program is to give our kids the soft skills they need to get ahead, to give them experience,” she said.
Ms. Zender experienced a similar program when she was a student in Canton.
“It’s a similar model that we use,” she said.
A brochure given to potential companies or organizations contains the responsibilities of students – to dress and act professionally, to perform relevant tasks and to reflect on the experience and performance. Host responsibilities include evaluating student performance, mentoring students, and teaching students real-world skills.
English teacher Lisa A. Winters said students attending the academy will take their basic lessons at school in the morning.
“These core courses are meant to align directly with what they’re going to do in the field. Children will learn soft skills and hard skills that will help prepare them for virtually any job they want in the future,” she said.
Students will rotate through different fields, following training before heading out into the community.
“We went out to ring the doorbell. The community has been great. There are a few places in Potsdam that have shown interest, so we are looking between Potsdam, Massena and obviously the local community. We think we can offer them five different placements to give them a broader experience,” Mr. Normile said.
“We have a range of partners that we have already reached out to in the community,” Ms Zender said. “When we talk to business leaders, we tell them that the students are going to be supervised. They will be told if they are not toeing the line.
Mr Normile said positive responses included NuMed, Agway, Tri-Town IGA Express and Goodnow Insurance.
“We hope the community will feel free to pick up the phone and call us” to request a student placement for five weeks, he said.
One of the students who applied is Hannah L. Agens, who filled out her application at one of her study halls. She plans to study early childhood education in college.
“I already have all my lessons. I just thought it would be really cool to have something to do,” she said.
It also gives her the opportunity to have a variety of experiences on her resume.
“It will be cool to have the knowledge of what they are doing,” Ms. Agens said.
For more information, contact Mr. Normile at 315-389-5131, ext. 29125, or email firstname.lastname@example.org