Students Serve in the Workforce


Photo Submmited

Students smile for a picture as they serve their Americorps position at trunk or treat night.

Punxsutawney high school has started a new program to prepare the students for their future adult life. Several of our students participate in this program, amongst them are Carter Savage, Brooke Skarbek, and Owen Wood. Students involved in the new and improved work release program leave school, work hard, learn responsibility, and best of all, make money. Work release counts as two school credits for the students, but it comes with great responsibility. It is not only work, but you are expected to have good grades, and complete assignments given to you by the advisor, Mrs. Trusal. 

To qualify for the program, a student must keep their GPA as a 3.0 or above, they also need to have good communication between themselves, their supervisor, and the advisor. They are given a timesheet to fill out, get signed by their supervisor, then turn it into the advisor so everyone is accounted for during the day. They must also be prepared for visits from the advisors. An advisor will show up occasionally to make sure you are where you are supposed to be. All students involved are also a part of a google classroom that is run by Mrs. Trusal. Here, they receive assignments, scholarship updates, and anything that our advisor sees as helpful to us. 

“This can also help the community by putting more people in the workforce. My hope is to havemore companies look for students in the program to help with their businesses and help the school turn out productive citizens. Punxsutawney Area High School has some great kids that would be an asset to local companies and communities,” said Trusal.

Work release covers many categories within the workforce. As of right now, students work for independently owned businesses, large businesses, and Americorps. This gives students the chance to experience a job they may want for their future career.

“It has shown me that I love working with other people to help them achieve their goals,” added Savage. 

“It has shown me that I want to go into elementary education and that I want to be in this kind of environment,”Skarbek added, after being asked about her current occupation, Americorps. 

If the student can handle it, they are also welcome to work more than one job. They of course have to be able to perform well at both jobs, get their required hours, and maintain their grades in school.

 In order to receive all credits of the work release program, students must work at least ten hours a week, but they should be working from the time they leave school until the time school is over, unless previously approved by the supervisor to do something else. 

“I had all my school credits, so I figured why not leave and make some money,” said Wood.

There are also modified work day options. For example, on flex days there are several different options for students in the workforce. They can come to school as normal, and leave for work after their periods are done, they can work in the morning, then come to school afterwards, or they can work all day to make some extra money. 

“This is a working progress, but after making adjustments, it seems to be working. Again, if program members check their emails, it works,” stated by Trusal.

“If not, it is very time consuming to track them down to get an answer. It is important that I know what the students are doing beforehand, so that attendance can be taken care of in a convenient way for all,” Trusal responded after being asked about flex day situations. 

Leaving for work can cause students to miss out on school activities, or so they thought. Students are students first, everyone who leaves for work is a senior, and they shouldn’t be forced to miss out on school activities. Our advisors know this and are very flexible. They modify our days so we can be involved in the big school events. For example, we still get to participate in school wide assemblies, and we are able to work around sports.  

Clubs can be difficult. Many students in the workforce are only in school for one star period a day. This makes it hard for them to attend all the club meetings or all the club events. 

“It shows me that you don’t have a lot of time to do stuff because you work everyday,” Wood stated. 

This can be a downside, but it still is possible to be involved in the school clubs. Students may have to talk to their club advisor, do more online, or leave work to attend mandatory meetings. If a student leaves work, but then goes back, they have to get it approved first, but the advisors understand and normally allow it as long as the student is getting their hours. 

On the other hand, leaving school may benefit the students just as much. Although certain activities, like clubs, may be difficult, these students are getting paid to leave school, receiving credit to graduate, and gaining quality experience for their future. 

“I’m making money by leaving school, it is working out great so far,” said Savage.

“Learning to balance work and school with social life and sports is a great skill. Showing up on time, communicating, working, and making money is priceless. Students can build their resumes and network outside of their usual circles,” Trusal responded. 

This program has benefited many students in many different ways. Students have the opportunity to see what the workforce will be like and get a taste of what adult life is like. Students should weigh their options and see if work release could be a part of their future. 

“Lots can be done to improve the program. Personally, I would like to be more involved with the community. I don’t know yet how this can happen, but we’re all working on it. I love that this is a constant work in progress. A few students have given me great suggestions for the upcoming semester that I look forward to trying. Communication can always be improved, too. I like to troubleshoot before a problem arises so there is always room for improvement,” said Trusal.

“If you have the chance, take the opportunity to do work release,” Skarbek added.