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LWHS Student Learning Not Always in the Classroom


Last updated 5/27/2019 at 1:25pm

As Lake Wales area schools are preparing for summer, we are reminded that not all education takes place in the classroom. Here is a story about students participating in experience training programs.

Just like every other student at Lake Wales High School, Ellis Allanson boards a bus and heads to Highlander Hill ready to take on his daily assignments.

But unlike most who spend their days in classrooms, the cafeteria and media center, Ellis spends most of his day at Sweet Ella's Produce, washing lettuce, carrying watermelons and keeping bins full of tasty apples or strawberries.

His friends head to Publix, or Pedro's Downtown Deli, to spend their time working on-site at a local business, part of the school's Career Experience training program for ESE youngsters to teach them job and social skills they can use for the rest of their lives.

What's especially rewarding for vocational trainer Carole Helms, who heads out each day with the young workers to make sure everything is going well, is who she sees when she makes her site visits.

For example, Allanson works side by side with Joseph Lunsford, a Career Experience graduate who now works a regular shift at Sweet Ellas. Garrion Davis, who spends his days with in the Polk Avenue Elementary School cafeteria, can get guidance and advice from Travis Lightsey and Jonathan Martinez who also were trained in the program before getting their regular gig with meal provider SLA Management.

Jesus Santana and Chanse Pitter spend their work hours at Publix, often alongside program alumni Renaldo Cadenda.

"It's nice to see former classmates using skills they learned from being in the program. With support from our business partners, I'm excited about the opportunities that open up for them," Helms noted. "They can show them they can have a successful life and employment in the future.

When not in the field, students can be found in the classroom, although their's is a little different than most. It features a washer and dryer so they can properly learn to do laundry, and even a bed to learn how to make up a fresh sleeping space.

But once at a business, it's all business for the eager-to-learn-and please students, who jump right in, whether it's cooking and serving a lunch or helping keep the grocery store's popular BOGO item stocked and ready to purchase.

"For example, at Publix, they have to multi task, greet the customers at the produce counter while you're cutting the fruit," Helms noted. "They're out there. They wait on people. Sometimes they don't even realize they're learning."


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