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New job shadowing program

Kyle Bryan

A new student internship and job shadowing program is in the works for Buckingham County High School.

On Sept. 19, Buckingham County Career and Technical Center Principal Kyle Bryan sent out a letter to every member of the Buckingham Chamber of Commerce. In his letter, Bryan reached out to community organization leaders and business owners, asking them for help in sharing work readiness opportunities with the local high school students.

In the letter, Bryan requested that businesses and organizations come forward if they are able to provide any internships, apprenticeships, or job shadowing programs to Buckingham students. Bryan emphasized the importance of building students’ skills and preparing them to enter the workforce, adding that local chamber members could help highschoolers to receive real life experience that can prepare them for their future.

“Well, we are just starting this brand-new (program) just in the last few weeks,” Bryan said in an interview with The Herald Oct. 24. “Part of our aim this year is to have more of our students ready for the workforce, even if they do plan to go to college. When they graduate, there’s still a lot of skills that they would need for whenever they start in the workforce, and we are trying to get them a little head start with either some type of job shadowing, internship or part time help, so at least when they are out and ready to apply for a real job, they have some experience and hopefully have picked up some skills along the way that will help them get a job.”

Bryan stated that he had heard back from several local organizations as of Oct. 24, including the Buckingham County Administration Office.

During its Oct. 13 Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, the Buckingham BOS made a motion to authorize their participation in the school’s brand-new program.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Buckingham County Administrator Rebecca Carter said to the board at their monthly meeting. “If you all will give authority to do that, we can have some students come in and shadow what we do, because as we know, many people don’t know what we do in government offices, the younger people, and this would be good for them.”

The board expressed their admiration of the idea and and passed the motion unanimously.

Bryan highlighted that he was aware that the program might not work for all Buckingham Chamber of Commerce members.

“It varies, what might work for one business or a student,” Bryan stated. “I know there’s 150 letters that I sent out. It wouldn’t work for 150 members of the Commerce, and it would not work for all of our students, but we’re hoping that we can take students that have the time and are willing and match them up with businesses or enterprises that are willing to take the time to work with them and get something going, and hopefully it will continue on for years from now, also.”

Lynn and David Perkins, of Pearson Construction Inc. in Dillwyn, also expressed their interest in taking part in Bryan’s program. Lynn explained that the couple are hoping to work with Buckingham students interested in the construction business.

“We’re planning to get something together and go down whenever they tell us to come, at the appropriate time, to talk to them,” Lynn said, hopeful that the program may help to draw students’ interest in a career in construction. “I think it’s great.”

Bryan added that the idea for the job shadowing program partially stemmed from a need for students to have some experience with work-based learning in order for the school to receive accreditation.

“So many of our students do not have any kind of job experience, and so knowing that part of our accreditation will start to depend on some of that, we wanted to get an early start to try to get as many students out there with some kind of experience as possible,” Bryan said.

Another business that expressed interest in participating in the work-based learning program is the Foxfire Christmas Tree Farm in Buckingham. Business owner Elizabeth Samuels explained her excitement for the program.

“I’m certainly looking forward,” said Samuels. “We’ve had a number of Buckingham students over the years here, but not with Kyle’s program. A lovely young woman called me yesterday and I’m looking forward to meeting her. She’s going to come out, and we will do some shadowing and see how she likes it here.”

Samuels added that there are many jobs for students to do at the Christmas tree farm, including the making and packaging of wreaths and the handling of Christmas trees.

“They learn a lot of business skills, too, because we’re working with a team out here,” added Samuels. “You have to develop lots of skills, because there’s so many different kinds of things that have to be done. It’s been a joy to watch the youngsters work out here over the years and to see how well they did.”

Samuels added that many students have asked for her reference for future jobs after getting some firsthand work experience at the farm.

“I was really so pleased that Mr. Bryan was working this program, because I think it’s a really good one,” Samuels said.

Bryan listed several other chamber members that are interested in possibly working with students in the program, including Boyer Electrical, Cheryl’s Barber and Beauty Salon, Tyson Contracting, AtWork Personnel Services, the Peter Francisco Soil and Water Conservation District, First Bank of Dillwyn, Yogaville, the Love No Ego Foundation and Dillwyn Pharmacy.

“We’re just trying to prepare students for the future,” Bryan said.