Mackenzie Jowell picks up her new laptop computer Tuesday for completing the Work and Life Skills Coalition program during a recognition ceremony at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig. Seventy-one students received computers for completing the program that assisted with life after high school and how to get and keep a job.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Mackenzie Jowell picks up her new laptop computer Tuesday for completing the Work and Life Skills Coalition program during a recognition ceremony at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig. Seventy-one students received computers for completing the program that assisted with life after high school and how to get and keep a job.

Students earn computers after completing program

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More than 200 people listened as former state Sen. Jack Taylor spoke Tuesday at the Work and Life Skills Coalition recognition ceremony. Taylor was the keynote speaker for the event.

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Lizeth Lopez was among several students who spoke during the ceremony. More than 70 students received Gateway laptop computers after completing the program.

— Not a sound was made as more than 200 people waited quietly for the last of 71 names to be called.

When the last student went up, received a handshake and a laptop computer, the room exploded - the combined clapping for every student who had graduated from the Work and Life Skills Coalition program

The Work and Life Skills Coalition presented students with laptop computers during its recognition ceremony Tuesday in the gymnasium at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig.

Each laptop was a Gateway M/7301 model with a price of $724.99 each. The students also received a printer, Microsoft Office and Norton Antivirus software, a carrying bag and a wireless mouse.

The 71 students who received laptop computers had successfully completed the program and all its requirements. The requirements included creating a flawless cover letter and resume, attending all of the modules, having a mock job interview and attending two seminars separate from the program.

The Work and Life Skills program was a pilot program started by a Moffat County Social Services grant to assist students with life after high school and how to get and keep a job.

When the program started, there were more than 100 students who signed up for the program. Conflicts with other schoolwork and athletics led to a number of students dropping out of the program.

Darcy Trask, Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership director, said the program represented a large commitment for the students.

"To make this happen, it took an enormous amount of hard work - to chase a dream in spite of the challenges," Trask said. "But, it shows how much one student, one family and one community can accomplish."

Susan Whinery, a retired English teacher and program coordinator, said the 11-week program offered her a chance to work with the people she's missed the most.

"The kids - it's been so nice to work with kids again and help them develop as successful individuals," she said. "This was a huge commitment for our youth and a community-wide effort."

Lizeth Lopez, a Moffat County High School senior, said the program would help her later in life.

"This program was a great help to me in every way," Lopez said. "It helped me fill out scholarships and (understand) the differences between a job and a career.

"A job is an occupation where you earn money. A career is where you make progress with your work, and it's something you love to do."

Former State Sen. Jack Taylor served as the keynote speaker for the ceremony, and he spoke to the group about the importance of integrity and honesty.

"Honesty is the best policy," Taylor said. "You have less to remember when you tell the truth."

Taylor also talked about how the program will be beneficial for the students as they make their way out in to the world.

"Whether or not you realize it, this program was important for planning the next stage of your careers," Taylor said. "Whether it's college, vocational school or work, this was a great experience.

"Because, like it or not, you're going to be spending most of your life working."

Taylor said employers were looking for people who do more than the job requirements and employees who put in the extra time and effort.

"For the seniors, after more than 12 years of school, and having the Work and Life Skills program added on top, you've climbed a major mountain," Taylor said. "The mandatory part is over, the rest is up to you. Just like in the Work and Life Skills program, you have to work to get ahead."

For MCHS junior Nathan Ellgen, 17, picking up his laptop was just one of the perks.

"We learned a lot, but probably the best was the budgeting part of the class," he said.

Derrick Ferguson, MCHS senior, said it was the people that made the message important.

"What I enjoyed most were the various classes and the people who made them come to life," Ferguson said. "If we didn't have the people there to bring the subjects to life, we wouldn't have learned half as much."

MCHS junior Amanda Snyder said she appreciated the program for a number of reasons.

"I was asked to write a letter of all the benefits the program offers," she said. "First, I would say all the new skills I learned, and the other big benefit was earning my own computer.

"Because of the skills I learned from the program, I feel confident moving forward with my future and profession."

Being confident in the future is just one thing to take from the program, Taylor said.

"Always strive to explore your opportunities, no matter where you go in your working life," Taylor said. "And, most importantly, never forget where you came from."

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