Monday, April 21, 2014

COBBS: Volunteers bring reality to OHS students

By RYAN COBBS, Ottawa High School | 12/2/2013

Communities in Schools has been providing meaningful programs for Ottawa High School for the past few years. These programs give a little more depth and meaning each year for all parties involved, including our students and the volunteers who help.

Earlier this year, the program sponsored the “Senior Day on the Job,” which provided an opportunity for the entire senior class to meet with local businesses to learn what skills and education it takes to obtain professional positions in our community, as well as forming an understanding of what is available for our students here in Ottawa after they graduate. Although Senior Day on the Job has become the flag ship of Communities in Schools activities in Ottawa, there are a number of other programs that are equally as successful and important.  

Communities in Schools has been providing meaningful programs for Ottawa High School for the past few years. These programs give a little more depth and meaning each year for all parties involved, including our students and the volunteers who help.

Earlier this year, the program sponsored the “Senior Day on the Job,” which provided an opportunity for the entire senior class to meet with local businesses to learn what skills and education it takes to obtain professional positions in our community, as well as forming an understanding of what is available for our students here in Ottawa after they graduate. Although Senior Day on the Job has become the flag ship of Communities in Schools activities in Ottawa, there are a number of other programs that are equally as successful and important.  

In November, the junior class had two programs to improve their understanding of the job interview process. “Dress for Success” was Nov. 11 and an effort to show our students the power of dressing appropriately for interviews. Several students modeled appropriate and inappropriate apparel as volunteers communicated to the entire class how the expectations for dress differ depending upon the job opening. The “Junior Interview Fair” came Nov. 19 and provided students the opportunity to apply their new-found knowledge by going through several mock interviews. Nearly 40 community members from a number of different businesses gave their mornings to interview our students, critique their performances and provide suggestions as to how they could improve.  

Today, the sophomores have their own opportunity to participate in a Communities in Schools program with Reality U. It started about 5 years ago with a simulated game in which students have to go through life situations with their salary based upon their cumulative G.P.A. Once again, a large number of community volunteers will be helping to make this program a success by housing stations that our students must attend. During this process, students will have to make a rent or mortgage payment, purchase a car and insurance, deal with children and the cost of parenthood, work through such unexpected payments as hospital bills or an automobile wreck, as well as number of other situations.  

Communities in Schools has been working to provide our students a better understanding of what life really is like after they graduate from high school and how the choices they make now will affect them later. Becky Nevergold and Cassie Myers with Communities in Schools have worked extremely hard to develop these programs and make them meaningful — not only to our students, but also to those who volunteer to man them. This isn’t just about sharing real-world experiences with our students; it also builds a bridge between OHS and the community. Without the volunteers who work with our students through these programs, there would be no way we could organize these events or make them something our students enjoy. OHS is very appreciative of the help our volunteers provide, as well as the work Nevergold and Myers put in to make these programs a success.

As OHS moves forward — dedicated to becoming a leading innovator in Kansas — these programs will continue to separate us from similar schools throughout the state. There are a number of schools who have contacted us about these programs and how we make them work. Couple Communities in Schools with our Mult-Tiered Support Systems program, as well as a number of other innovative programs coming in the near future, and OHS quickly is becoming a model for others.

Dr. Ryan Cobbs is principal at Ottawa High School. Email him at cobbsr@usd290.org or call (785) 229-8020.

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