Lake Hamilton High School students ‘STEP’ into careers before graduation

Local News

PEARCY, Ark. – Students at Lake Hamilton High School are getting a head start on building a career before they even graduate. It’s called STEP, which stands for Students Transitioning to Employment Program.

From preparing for the lunch bell to wiping down tables, students at Lake Hamilton High School learn the ins and outs of holding a job, and earning a paycheck.

“I feel like the more training we can give these kids the more opportunities they’re going to have,” Teacher Jodie Keeling said.

It’s a three-year class that starts sophomore year.

“We teach the basics like what are bosses looking for. We watch videos. We talk about what we’re looking for,” Keeling said.

Year two they’re able to venture out of the classroom and are employed here at school.

“They work for teachers, they work in the cafeteria, they work in the bus barn,” Keeling said.

Andy Tolleson is in the program and spent his junior year working in the cafeteria.

“I cleaned the tables and I clean the floors,” Tolleson said.

As a senior, he’ll be able to take these skills to a business around town.

“We’re able to work with the school hours,” Walmart Neighborhood Market Operations Manager Betty Boone said.

Walmart is one of many companies that partner with the program.

“They’ve been able to work at the store and they’ve done a fantastic job. We look forward to new students every year,” Boone said.

Each time they clock in and clock out, they get more experience in the working world.

“I’m a lot better at communicating with people. I couldn’t do that before,” STEP Graduate Aliyah Coleman said.

Walmart hired Coleman after she graduated.

“I love it. I love the people I work with. I love my managers,” Coleman said.

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