By Deborah Strange, The Gainesville Sun
Posted October 27, 2017
Students at Buchholz High School were initiated into the Jobs for Florida’s Graduates program Friday, which teaches them personal development skills.
Fifty students walked down the auditorium aisles at Buchholz High School on Friday morning, black paper signs with yellow paint on their backs.
The signs described their barriers to success. Students had written “depression,” “laziness,” “money,” “procrastination,” among other words. One student had written, “The only barrier is myself.”
One by one their names were called, and the students walked on stage, took their signs off and threw them away. They were officially initiated into the Jobs for Florida’s Graduates program.
The program, a state affiliate of the Jobs for America’s Graduates, entered Alachua County this year via Buchholz and Gainesville high schools. It aims to prepare upperclassmen for careers or higher education after graduating high school.
“My job is to prepare them for the real world,” said Alton Darling, the Buchholz program coordinator.
JFG is sponsored through a Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida’s Graduates grant. Heather Beaven, the foundation’s CEO, said it works with schools whose leadership is as focused on freshmen succeeding in high school as it is on seniors succeeding after graduation.
Students learn personal development skills and research career opportunities, and they’re able to shadow workers and leaders in fields they’re considering.
“We’re focusing on next year for them,” Beaven said.
Senior Quay Scott said she’s appreciated the program’s lessons.
“It’s not just about schoolwork,” she added. “It’s about after we graduate, how to handle real-life situations.”
Her aunt, Danielle Upshaw, came to see the initiation.
“I am extremely proud of her,” Upshaw said.
Scott hopes to study psychology after high school and become a therapist.
Most of the Buchholz students in the program are seniors, with a handful of juniors. If the grant is renewed next year, juniors have the opportunity to participate in the program again.
Graduating seniors will have follow-ups with Darling to help make it through their first year out of high school.
Brycyn White, a senior, said he was learning how to set and stick to goals.
“It’s something I could use after I get out of high school,” White said. The barriers on his sign were laziness and procrastination, which he said the program has helped him avoid.
He’s taken some of Darling’s advice to heart, he said.
“Don’t worry about anything that’s not helping you get to where you want to be,” he explained.
White isn’t sure what he wants to do after school, although he’s interested in music.
Darling is part teacher, part mentor, part coordinator for the students. He said JFG allows students to take more away from school than traditional academics.
“When I was in school, we didn’t really have a class that prepared you for the real world,” he said. “The program really deals with other issues they need to combat. Personal development skills are extremely important for these kids to succeed.”
Shedrick Burley wears his "uncertain race" sign as he takes the career association creed with other students during Buchholz High School's Jobs for Florida's Graduates Program initiation and Induction Ceremony on October 27, 2017. The program is designed to keep young people in high school and to provide counseling and other help so they can land a quality job after graduation or continue their education.
Lonneice Cauley takes the career association creed with the other students during Buchholz High School's Jobs for Florida's Graduates Program Initiation and Induction Ceremony on Friday, October 27, 2017.