Schoolwork has taken on a whole new meaning for many Thomson High School students. The school board has hired 60 students to help with summer work projects at various campuses.
"The community is lacking in terms of employment opportunities for kids. They need work skills, we need work done ... it's a win-win situation. I'm tickled, I think it's going to work out great." McDuffie County Superintendent of Schools Mark Petersen said.
Antakeyda Williams, 16, uses a wet-vac at Norris Elementary School.
Coach Michael Thomas is overseeing the program, which he says "instills good work habits, the kind they are expected to have when they go out in the real world."
Coach Thomas said an announcement regarding the work opportunities was made before school was out for the summer. Students who were interested had to fill out a job application, provide referrals from at least two teachers, and undergo an interview.
Stacie Martin, 15, said this is her first job. She said "going through the interview was basically like they've taught us in school."
Dr. Petersen said each student will work 16 hours every week, "so they won't be overworked, and can still enjoy their summer." The students will assist custodians, maintenance staff, and secretaries at every school.
"I don't usually have help, so this is nice," said ChiEngle Pinkston, secretary at Norris Elementary. "They have nice personalities, and they finish what I give them, then ask for more work."
Danny Bonner, head custodian at Norris Elementary, said the students were busy on their first day washing walls, stripping and mopping floors, moving furniture, and "doing it all."
Ceteria Franklin, 16, said "the work is hard, but I love the floor-waxer because it's easy." Cecily Mays, 17, said she preferred using the wet vac to clean up water, because she "sort of squirts people" as they pass by.
One of the requirements to be hired was a recommendation from two teachers stating that the student is dependable and polite. The students are paid $6 hourly to work for five weeks.
"I'm going to use my paycheck to get my hair done, and get some shoes, and get some new clothes for school next year," Stacie said.