Thursday, October 10th, 2013
By Amy Kronenberger
New programs intended to ready students for life after school
  ST. MARYS - Two new programs are being offered at St. Marys high school this year to help students prepare for their futures.
High school guidance counselors Deb Hinckley and Bill Cheslock presented the information to school board members during their meeting on Wednesday. Hinckley said she learned about a program Wright State University offered to schools in the Dayton area that focused on college and career readiness, and she wanted to bring it to St. Marys.
"It piqued my interest as something I thought we could bring here," she told school board members. "It had features that I thought would benefit our students."
She asked the Wright State officials if they would be willing to collaborate and create a program for St. Marys and they agreed. The program is called Guidance Wednesdays.
Main Campus and Lake Campus staff members at Wright State will give one presentation per month for each grade level.
"So it's four presentations a month, and by the end of the year, students will have had the opportunity to hear seven different grade-level-specific programs," Hinckley said.
The freshmen presentations will focus on study skills, time management, social building skills, math and writing workshops and high school course work that helps students get started on the right path, she said. Sophomores will go one step further and focus on responsibility, work ethic, money management, career exploration, alternatives to college and college preparedness.
It's all about getting students ready for college and future careers.
"Juniors go a little bit more in-depth," she said. "We're talking about building a college resume, who can and should go to college, taking the ACT, financial literacy, can I afford college, deadlines and due dates and social media and how that affects your college application process."
Seniors will focus more specifically on college preparedness and the senior timeline, Hinckley said.
"We did a college student panel on what it's really like in college, kind of a myth-busters," she said. "We're going to do financial aid basics, a FAFSA completion workshop, scholarships and grants, majors versus minors and finally at the end of the year, a college survival presentation."
The second news program offered was developed through Hometown Opportunity and Mercer County Economic Development Director Jared Ebbing.
"Through collaborating with Jared and doing some brainstorming, we've put together a program for our students to enlighten them about opportunities that are in their own backyard that they might not be aware of," Hinckley said.
Once a month, Ebbing will give a presentation with the help of local business officials and other speakers to discuss local career opportunities. The program is geared toward sophomores and juniors, but seniors are welcome to attend.
The first presentation to be held this month will focus on agriculture and the food science industries, Hinckley said. A professor from Lake Campus' food science program and the CEO of Safeway Foods will join Ebbing. During the remainder of the school year, Ebbing will focus on manufacturing, logistics, healthcare and education.
"Basically we were trying to provide opportunities to our students to hopefully connect them to the opportunities that are available post-high school," Hinckley said. "We are a comprehensive high school and have students going in a variety of different directions, and we wanted to make sure we had information available for all of them."
Also on Wednesday, board members recognized students Kristen Dammeyer and Thomas Wirth, who high school principal Bill Ruane said were honored as commended students for the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program.
"Commended students are recognized for their exceptional academic prowess demonstrated by their outstanding performance on the PSAT," he said, noting Dammeyer and Wirth placed in the top 5 percent of the 1.5 million students who take the PSAT in the U.S.
Ruane also honored the members of the scholastic bowl team, who placed first out of 16 teams at the TV44 Wiz Quiz in Elida.
Board member Ronda Shelby praised Dammeyer and Wirth and the team.
"We have done so well so many, many times," she said. "I'm always so proud to say I'm from St. Marys when I'm there. Thank you for making St. Marys look so darn good."
Board members also,
• approved the retirement of business manager Kurt Kuffner after 14 years of service. Kuffner's position was eliminated when nearly $1.5 million in cuts were made in May. His contract was altered to allow him to continue working until he was eligible for retirement.
• approved donations from Dan Muhlenkamp of Preferred Insurance, Coldwater, for a subscription to "Ohio Community Studies Weekly" newspaper for a fourth-grade classroom; Carol Schroeder for a Hammond Elegante Organ for concerts and performances; and the St. Marys Rotary Club for dictionaries for all third-graders. The Rotary has been giving dictionaries to third-graders for 13 years.
• approved various supplemental contracts.
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