Justine Hathhorn, left, and Callie Papoulas look at information given Tuesday at Moffat County High School for the Moffat County Work and Life Skills program. Orientation for the class begins Monday and Tuesday.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Justine Hathhorn, left, and Callie Papoulas look at information given Tuesday at Moffat County High School for the Moffat County Work and Life Skills program. Orientation for the class begins Monday and Tuesday.

Work and Life Skills deadline extended

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Darcy Trask carried away candy bars as quickly as she could. The director of the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership was on a mission: to inform Moffat County High School students about the upcoming after-school program organized by the Moffat County Work and Life Skills Coalition.

"I haven't had anyone say 'no' yet," she said during a trip back to the table during the high school's second lunch on Tuesday.

At the table full of candy bars sat Susan Whinery, a retired English teacher at the school and the program coordinator. She set up a table Monday and Tuesday during both lunches to talk to students about the program.

"She's the hard sell; I'm more of a soft sell," Whinery said, motioning toward Trask, who was talking to a table of sophomores. Whinery was content to sit at the table and have students come to her. "Doing this was really important so we could follow up."

The grant provided for the program is through Moffat County Social Services. It is a one-time grant providing funding through June.

The primary goals of the class are to promote healthy life choices, prepare students for the work force and prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies. The students are required to fill out a one-page application, to attend all nine of the seminars and an orientation and to turn in a portfolio of work at the end. For each seminar, there are five time options.

The previous week, the program was presented to each of the school's four classes during separate assemblies. On the Friday after the assemblies, a majority of the students interviewed about the program didn't express a lot of interest.

Comments from students ranged from: "I don't want to have to write a page explanation to apply for something" to "I can't miss any time from work" to "It seems like the classes are about common sense."

Whinery knew that the assembly alone wasn't enough. So she set up shop in the lunchroom early this week.

"I think the word 'portfolio' might have scared some kids away," Whinery said. "They also have a lot of questions about scheduling for the seminars."

On Tuesday, Whinery was listening to students give her reasons why they wouldn't be able to apply, but more often she was fielding questions about the program.

Junior Taelor Stagner had questions about the scheduling. After Whinery answered the questions, Stagner took an application.

"I think it's good to have the skills that they are going to teach us about," she said. "A lot of my friends are going to sign up."

Stagner is a good student, is on the dance team and has a weekend job. She recognized that active students such as herself might be the ones who gravitate to the program.

"Maybe the go-getters are going to be the ones who apply," she said. "But it sounds like a lot of kids are going to apply, and I think it has been kids that have all kinds of different reasons to do it."

One of the main reasons for students to sign up was that funding for the program allows for each student that completes all of the class requirements to earn a laptop valued from $600 to $1,000.

The laptop seemed to be a significant incentive. Seven of the 11 students interviewed on the Friday after the assemblies didn't recognize what they were being asked about until the program was referred to as "the laptop class."

"If I get paid to take a class, I'm going to at least consider it," senior Jesse Breslin said after referring to it as the "laptop class." "I think it's good that they have certain requirements so that you have to work to earn the computer."

When the deadline for applications passed on Wednesday, Whinery counted 62 forms. The numbers were low considering the coalition initially budgeted for 200 students to be in the program.

Trask recognized that the limited amount of time for the grant has given coalition members less flexibility than they would have liked.

"If this was more than a one-time opportunity, we could just take low numbers and say we'd try for more next year," Trask said. "But we only have this funding for one chance."

The deadline for the applications was extended from Wednesday to Feb. 2. There was an additional incentive added to the class by the school's administration. Students who need to make up time for previously missing school can count the hours they spend at the seminars as make-up time.

Another change made allows for parents to bring students who have yet to sign up to one of the orientations on Monday or Tuesday night.

"I think we can get 100 applications for this," Whinery said.

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