photo by: Alan Olson
The dozens of special needs students participating in the Marshall County Schools work study program work hard alongside their classroom throughout the school year, and their dedication was rewarded with a banquet for them Monday morning.
The banquet was held at Grand Vue Park, where the students socialized, ate, played and celebrated their year of work well done. Throughout the year, the students spend time working at several local businesses, learning life skills and preparing the students for work after graduation. The students are paid through the work program, which is managed by the school district’s special education department.
Josie Howard, coordinator for the work study program, said the program is looking to expand, and that the roughly 35 students greatly enjoy the work.
“The kids are super, super successful with it. They learn independence, they learn life skills, and our primary goal is to make sure they’re prompt and ready for working after graduation,” Howard said.
The businesses which participate in the work study program are Catholic Charities in Wheeling, Ruttenbucks, Guest House, Grand Vue, Anytime Fitness, Quality Bakery, Marshall County Animal Shelter and Ace Hardware. Some Cameron students also work with local municipal agencies, such as city hall and the Cameron Fire Department. Howard said the program is looking to grow, both in terms of students and local businesses.
“This is the end-of-the-year banquet, where we come together. Our kids work from September to April, they have to maintain their grades, and are not allowed to call off unless necessary,” she continued. “It’s an appreciation banquet; we have all the work sites here, we provide food, games, gifts, just to let them know how much we appreciate them. Our kids deserve this after working so hard. It’s just to let them know at the end of the year that they did it, and we’re proud of them.”
The work study program has been ongoing for years, but due to COVID, the banquet was unable to be held for several years.
Cameron High School student Holden Estel, who works with the Cameron Fire Department, loves the program and encourages others to join in.
“We pretty much have car wrecks and fires every day,” Estel said.