Students learn job and life skills through MHS program

Jacob’s Ladder Alumna Nai’ja Cooke stays involved in the community.

The students and staff of the Middlesex High School vocational and transition program who developed a stocking fundraiser include, front, from left, student intern Ella Hodges, Nai’ja Cooke, Sammy Fleet, Shinea Osbourne, teacher Mrs. Perla Williams, and Taralee Mastro; and back, same order, Josh Freeman, Bridey Dubey, teacher C. Clark Laster IV, Patrick Larson and Georgia Crittenden. (Contributed)

The vocational and transition program at Middlesex High School (MHS) is a class that teaches job and life skills to help students be successful when they graduate from high school. This year, the program was reimagined and uses the Practical Assessment Exploration System (PAES) to help students experience different types of jobs. The PAES assessment tool divides over 250 jobs into five areas. These areas are Business/Marketing, Customer Service, Processing and Production, Construction, and Computer technology.

The students in the MHS vocational and transition program developed a stocking fundraiser for the staff at Middlesex High School, St. Clare Walker Middle School, Middlesex Elementary School, Middlesex School Board Office, and Middlesex Social Services, among others. The program tasked the students in the class to design and create hand-made stockings. Each stocking was $10. 

Up to the task

The students made a budget and worked together to complete the program. “We spent about $300 on fabric, thread, and needles,” said C. Clark Laster IV, the teacher in the program. “At first, I thought we bit off more than we could achieve, but the students proved they were up to the task.” During the class, the students broke into numerous groups and worked to master each station. The stations were tracing the fabric, cutting the fabric, machine sewing, adding a cuff, and adding names using the Cricut, a die-cutting machine.

“It was amazing to see the students using all the machines,” commented Ella Hodges, a senior intern in the class. “Once they learned the different stations, we knew they could do it.” After the class made a few templates for the staff, numerous staff and school board members would walk by the room and watch and sometimes help the students create them. Perla Williams, the paraprofessional in the class, proved to be the lynchpin of the program. She would quality control each step of the process. 

100 Stockings

In total, the students created over 100 stockings. The money from their fundraiser will go to resupplying the supplies they need for the class. Those supplies are things like lumber for carpentry projects, fabric for sewing, vinyl for the Cricut machine, and food for basic food preparation. 

One of the stretch goals of the vocational program is to get the students involved with the community and be successful members of our community. On Dec. 5 and 6, the students went to the Middlesex Family YMCA to assist in making packets for the Jingle Bell 5K. “I am committed to getting them in the community, but we have to have specific programs with specific needs, so the students understand the idea of a group of people working together to achieve a common goal,” said teacher Laster.

by C. Clark Laster IV
From a story printed by the Southside Sentinal, reposted with edits by permission

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