High School High Tech students celebrate busy summer of internships

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Port St. Joe High School students in the High School High Tech Program have had a busy summer wiring houses, planning displays for the library, cataloguing evidence at the Sheriff’s office and chasing children  during their summer internships.

Through this career mentoring program, students worked with different employers and businesses in the community.

"Our businesses partners gave the students the opportunity to gain experience on how to be effective employees this summer with job training and exposure to the work environment," organizers of the program said in a press release.

The High School High Tech is a program of Dyslexia Research Institute and is partially funded by the Able Trust and Vocational Rehabilitation, The Alfred I. duPont Foundation, and the Murphy Family Foundation.

HSHT is designed to give high functioning kids with disabilities and other challenges work and job skills and exposure to different occupations while they are in high school. Through participation in the meetings and community volunteer service, the students earn the right to be in the paid internship summer program.

"Our local High School High Tech paid them a stipend for their internship, and based on their skill improvement and meeting some good employee standards they received bonuses," the release continued.

Wesley’s Electrical Services mentored J.T. Mork for a second time this summer, building on the skills he learned last year.

J.T. learned how to put in fans, pull wires in new construction, and install switches.

Cameron Lindsey interned at the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office.

He had to take a Level 2 Security Awareness course and pass the test before he could work there, and he passed with flying colors.

“It was interesting working with the evidence and cataloguing it. It is not really like CSI,” Lindsey said. His lifelong dream is to be a law enforcement officer, and he said this experience has reinforced that dream.

Nigeria Russ enjoyed her time at The Learning Center. She worked with children between 6 and 10 years old, although she says her heart is with the babies.

Russ has been working towards her childcare certificate and hopes to have earned it by the time she graduates next year.

L.J. Brown thoroughly enjoyed working at the library. He put together a display on Star Trek and was excited to help children pick out books because his display had caught their attention.

Mimi Minnick, coordinator for the Gulf County Libraries, said “L.J. was so comfortable with working with the people who came to the library, and he also enjoyed the more mundane work of organizing and checking out books.”

Brown said, “I just really like to help people.”

The St. Joe Golf Club and Jordan Arnold have worked with Kevin Barnes this summer. This was Kevin’s first job and he enjoyed learning to maintain the golf carts and the pool area. He especially liked driving the carts.

Summer is not usually the time when teenagers get up at the crack of dawn, but Emma Fisher rose three days a week to go on the turtle patrol with Jessica Swindall of The Turtle Conservancy.

She also worked at The Turtle Center and led tours and prepared for the festival.

Fisher is interested in marine biology and through this experience learned, not just about turtles, but about other facets of marine biology.

Miracle Smiley, Daylon Hunnings and Zoey Hamm interned as camp counselors with CareerSource Gulf Coast.

Hunnings had interned at the library last year and enjoyed it, but he wanted to get out of his comfort zone and see if he would enjoy working with children. “I think I want to become a teacher and felt this was a good place to learn if I liked working with kids,” he said.

“Working with these mentors is invaluable for the students as they develop their skills for employment. We so appreciated the business mentors’ willingness to not just hire our students but to really mentor them and teach them good work habits.” said Robyn Rennick, program director of HSHT.

Much of the students’ stipends for the internship program and other activities are raised through local funding by the sponsorships from local businesses in the Autumn Action Golf Tournament, organizers said.

The Autumn Action will be held at the St Joseph Bay Golf Club, October 9 this year.

"Please consider a sponsorship or come out and bring a team to play and help the kids," the orgainzation said.

"None of the accomplishments of this program would be possible without the fantastic support of our local businesses who participate throughout the year. Our deepest appreciation goes out to each one of them for their time and effort working with our HSHT students throughout the year."

If you are interested in being involved, please contact Rennick at 850-229-8989 or come by the orgainzation's office at 1934 SR 30 A in Simmons Bayou and talk with us.

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