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Program puts teens to work for summer

July 31, 2012

Lone Pine lifeguards (top row, l-r) PJ Zrelak, Maureen Cariou, Rachel Martin, Greg Greene, Senior Lifeguard Andrew Howe, (bottom row, l-r) Mike Palsrock and Brittney Tweedy are just a few of the Lone Pine students participating in the high school’s Summer Youth Employment and Training Program. Photo courtesy Healthy Communities

Lone Pine High School and Metabolic Studio teamed up this summer to help fund summer jobs at local businesses for 26 local students.
Summer Youth Employment and Training Program Coordinator Stacy Ayers said a grant from Metabolic Studio has allowed the school district to employ students at a number of Lone Pine businesses, ranging from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Lone Pine Cemetery District to the Chamber of Commerce, the Lone Pine Memorial Plunge and the Lone Pine Film History Museum, among many others.
“A lot of these kids are contributing to their family household, earning money to pay for the sports they will be playing,” Ayers said. “Some of them are saving up for a vehicle, and a lot of them are saving money for college. Everyone has different reasons.”
Ayers said high school students of working age were invited to fill out a Summer Youth Employment and Training Program application at the end of the school year that included questions about their interests.
From there, Ayers was able to contact local business owners to see if they were willing to train and work with the students throughout the summer. Many businesses, she said, were more than happy to accommodate the students, as the school district uses the funds from Metabolic Studio to pay for insurance and wages for the kids.
“Some of the kids are doing retail, one is working for the Forest Service, there is a large range of jobs and some of the kids are placed in the same job they had last year because they have built a rapport there,” Ayers said.
In addition to work training and experience, the Summer Work Program provides students with regular meetings with the local business community to hear how to market themselves for jobs from local employers.
“We meet every Tuesday for training presentations from community members to discuss what it is they’re looking for when they’re hiring,” Ayers said. “We had (Boulder Creek RV Park owner) Jaque Hickman come and discuss the importance of tourism, and how the more knowledge they have of the area, the more they can help visitors and how it all comes full circle.”
At the end of the summer, the program will culminate with a party for all of the students and employers. All students who participated will be required to create a PowerPoint presentation to share, giving their take on the program and their summer as a local employee.
Ayers said the program is set up to give the students an authentic work experience, “so if they don’t show up to work, they can be let go just as quickly as we hired them. It’s a real-life scenario that teaches them job safety and responsibility.”
Healthy Communities of Southern Inyo Director Charles James, who manages the Lone Pine Memorial Plunge on behalf of the school district, trained all the lifeguards who were hired by the school district through the Youth Employment Program. He said each of the teens has proven to be a dedicated employee.
“This group working for me this summer as lifeguards has been just wonderful to work with at the pool,” James said. “I’ve known all of them for six years when the youngest ones in the group were only 9 years old! It is great to work with them as adults. They are good examples and representatives of our youth here in Inyo County.”
Ayers said she is hoping Metabolic Studio will be willing and able to provide a grant for the program next year as well, as it has proved to be a valuable resource for the students, who have had more and more trouble finding summer jobs in the struggling economy.
“With this economy, the youth are competing with the general public for jobs,” Ayers said, pointing out that, with Metabolic Studio and the school district paying wages and managing the students’ hours, respectively, some employers are able to hire students they otherwise might not be able to afford to employ.
“We definitely want to pursue this in the future,” Ayers said.

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