Ready for the world
Hurley students keep busy in school-to-work, college study programs
November 30, 2019
By TOM LAVENTURE
High school students can spend part of the day taking classes online, or attending classes at area colleges so that they can work afternoons with a partnering company in the community, said Kevin Genisot, school administrator.
“These collaborations with area businesses present opportunities to prepare students for the workplace through learning soft skills, mentoring and actual on-the-job training,” he said.
Students can apply for the Start College Now Program or take online elective college credit courses with the Early College Credit Program, said Sarah Eder, school counselor. The vocational and technical programs also allow students to take online courses or attend Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, while other students are learning mechanics, nursing, retail, nonprofit, manufacturing and other occupations in the school-to-work program.
“This year we have 20 kids in the program,” Eder said. “Kids like being out of the building more and this is a good opportunity for them to see what’s out there.”
Eder and special education teachers Andrea Mackey and Dan Perlberg coordinate the students with their respective jobs and contract with area employers. The students meet with the counselors and write a paper as a capstone.
Around 75% of school-to-work program participants go on to complete a two-year post-secondary program after high school, Perlberg said. The rest go straight to work or on to a four-year university, he said.
“We’ve been lucky to be able to develop this program,” Perlberg said. “It helps kids so much to have that experience.”
Kelsey Krall, a senior, works afternoons at Villa Maria Health and Rehabilitation Center, where she organizes resident activities as a certified nursing assistant.
“As a CNA I get to work alongside RNs and see what they do,” Krall said. “I like caring for people and knowing that I can make a difference.”
The summer before her sophomore year Krall took the CNA course through Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. A Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Service grant covered the cost in exchange for six months work as a CNA at Villa Maria.
“Kelsey started off with the School to Work program and her opportunities here at the Villa have led her to complete the certified nursing assistant program and start her career here working on the floor as a CNA,” said Lia Simonich, director of nursing at Villa Maria.
Students who are interested in pursuing a career in health care have an opportunity to work through the student learning program, she said. Villa Maria provides students with hands-on learning experiences in the nursing home setting for long term care residents and short term rehabilitation patients, she said.
Krall was accepted into the pre-nursing program at WITC. The Start College Now program pays for online WITC courses while she’s in high school and the credits count toward the three-year program.
“I will be a semester ahead when go into college,” said Krall, who eventually wants to work in a hospital environment.
Two other seniors, Keegan Miller and Logan Peterson, work in Wakefield at Extreme Tool & Engineering, Inc. The two make molds and parts in the finishing department.
Miller’s day starts at Hurley School, before driving to WITC Ashland Campus to complete a degree in machine tool operation. Then he goes to work at Extreme Tool in the evening.
“As a sophomore I took as many high school classes as I could so that as a junior I could go to WITC,” Miller said.
Miller has been taking shop classes in Hurley since the sixth grade. He also plans to pursue a certification as a heavy machine operator.
“I want to operate a crane,” Miller said.
Peterson said his interest in manufacturing came from taking shop classes as a freshmen. As a sophomore he took online classes at school to make time to work a four-hour shift at Extreme Tool in the school-to-work program.
As a junior, Peterson returned to his regular school schedule and worked an evening shift at Extreme Tool. As a senior he takes morning classes to make time for time to work a full eight-hour shift.
“At this point I am just motivated to do well in school and graduate so I can further my career there,” Peterson said.
The three years at Extreme Tool count toward a journeyman tool maker opportunity with the company. The certification requires 10,000 hours of work and Peterson will have close to 3,000 hours when he graduates high school.
“A journeyman is someone who has worked in every department in the company,” Peterson said.
Life isn’t all work though and the jobs are flexible to allow for extracurricular activities.
Krall runs cross country and when she’s busy her coach lets her train on her own.
“It just means you have to manage everything and prioritize at times,” Krall said.
Peterson plays football and finds time on his schedule.
Miller played football until his senior year when he opted for the WITC opportunity.
Jake Hostettler, the metal instructor of the Northwoods Manufacturing program at Hurley K-12 School, said Peterson and Miller have a special opportunity because Extreme Tool is willing to work with students under age 18.
“Not every company does and kudos to them for doing that and working with the kids,” Hostettler said. “Both kids are fantastic and they will make good employees for whomever gets them some day.”
Trevor Meinke, manager of Extreme Tool, now owned by Westfall Technik Inc., said the five-year-old apprenticeship program is certified by the U.S. Department of Labor and the American Mold Builders Association. The program works closely with Hostettler, he said.
“He will give us names and we start bringing them here and working with them,” Meinke said. “We support that program along with several other local manufacturers.”
The student starts with “a working interview” in the summer, performing menial tasks so that supervisors can assess the work ethic, he said. When the students prove themselves they are brought into the program and learn to make injection molds using computer assisted design and computer numerical control programs.
“We want people who want to go into the trade and learn,” Meinke said.
Jim Sejbl, the student supervisor at Extreme Tool, said the program is a great way to identify young people who are genuinely interested in the field. Without that direct exposure many youth might leave the area after school without realizing the opportunities here, he said.
“I know the trade pretty good and I know the guys and they are doing a great job,” Sejbl said.