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Senior Achievement Helps Students Prepare for "Real World"
Posted On:
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
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How do I figure and file for taxes?  What are the advantages and risks of credit cards?  How do I prepare a budget for when I’m out on my own?  What is a cover letter? How do I prepare for a job interview?  What do I do when I don’t get along with a coworker? How do I apply for scholarships?  What is the FAFSA and how can it help me?

These are questions that many young people ask when they are attempting to navigate the first few years of life after high school.  And they’re not necessarily new questions--they were asked by students ten years ago as well as by students 30 years ago.

One of the ways White Pine High School helps students go about answering these questions--as well as many others--is through the real life course Senior Achievement, taught as the culminating capstone of the high school experience.  The course originated at WPHS in 2010 or so as an experiment paid for through grant funds. Students interested in learning some real life skills that would assist them after high school voluntarily signed up for the course, which was taught by Dianne Wagers, a since retired master teacher.  Within a year, school officials and board members felt so strongly about the positive experience students were reporting by being in the class that they included successfully completing the course into policy.

Students enroll in the course for one semester as seniors.  Besides addressing the content described above, students also receive instruction and practice in conflict resolution, problem solving, and interpersonal communication.  They compile a portfolio, containing some of their best work throughout high school, and make a presentation at the end of the course to their family, friends, school officials, and community members.

One valuable experience that students participate in is that of a mock job interview.  Community members from many walks of life volunteer to interview students. All interviewers are provided a rubric which they use to score students’ responses to the interview questions.  Categories on the rubric include students physical presentation (dress, grooming), body language (eye contact, posture), speech (appropriate vocabulary, please and thank you), and more.

Coty Weaver, Senior Mine Engineer at KGHM was one of this year’s volunteers.  He shares, “My overall reaction was WOW!  These young people were well prepared, well educated in their application area, and confident.  They all had well written cover letters, application forms, and glowing letters of recommendations.  Having been a real job interview I would have hired any one of them. This mock interview setting was a great way to get the students exposure to the next stage of their lives and they worked hard in that regard.  I want to commend them on their efforts and thanks for letting me participate.”

Kim Kammerer, Human Resources Manager at KGHM was another local professional who volunteered his time.  “One point I discussed with the students I interviewed was that they should be as prepared as they can for an interview including understanding as much as reasonably can be expected about the job for which they are applying.  Their goal should be to have a successful interview each and every time they interview so they get the job offer. Ideally they will have multiple job offers from which to choose. I encourage all of your students to put their best effort in preparing and completing a thorough interview, point out their accomplishments and emphasize their strengths on the resume.  The cover letter should emphasize interest in the position being applied for as well as some of the strengths which match well to the position. (experiences, for instance). Good communication skills are essential throughout our lives. To that end, the cover letter and resume need to be spell checked and proof read by someone else to ensure errors are removed. These minor details can make the difference between who gets the offer!”  He summed up his time at the school stating, “I left this experience very impressed with the young folks I interviewed with. You have some remarkable young people who definitely have purpose and are well prepared. I would not hesitate recommending them or considering them for positions that we have.”

Community members who would like to offer their expertise to the Senior Achievement classes can contact counselor Steffani Thompson or principal Becky Murdock at 289-4811.