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EHS looking to chamber for student-job connections

Matching local employers with Ellsworth High School students participating in special programs was a mission discussed by EHS APEX Instructor and Work Release Coordinator Dave Berg with local chamber of commerce members Thursday.

"Ellsworth High School offers students several different programs that teach employment skills and career exploration," Berg said. "An important part of these programs is to provide students with a work experience."

The school board and administration has committed to doing a better job of making such skills available, he said. Toward that end, classes in areas including career exploration and independent living have been established.

Berg said he works with two special programs, Learn to Earn and APEX. The school sponsors work release for participants, enabling them to gain employment experience. They receive high school credit.

Released at the fourth block of the school day schedule, they must be gainfully employed and be passing their other classes, he said. Sometimes, a conflict with their own class schedules prevents them from taking jobs.

APEX is an alternative education program, he said. It serves students at risk of not graduating with their class and is funded by a five-year grant from the state. Among areas it addresses are competency in academics and completing employment skills. If successful, students get diplomas.

"We would like members of the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce to become familiar with these programs," he said. "We are interested in building relationships with employers who have an interest and a need for quality part-time employees."

The school prefers to place students in jobs in the local community, Berg said. Officials aren't asking employers to hire students if the need isn't there. But if they want part-time help during the day, the school will put them in contact with eligible students.

"A number of Ellsworth businesses have provided work experience to students over the years, and we would like to continue and expand those relationships," he said.

The school is also seeking resource people from the community to come in and provide education about available jobs, Berg said. He plans to send a follow-up letter to chamber members with more specifics and an invitation to take advantage of the opportunity. Meantime, he can be contacted by calling 273-3904 or visiting .

In other chamber business:

--New members were announced, including Snap Fitness, West Side Laundry, Hart Ink, Gordie's Lock and Key, and Access to Justice. Vice President Raynee Farrell reported there are currently 141 members, the highest total in recent years.

--Kate Hanson of American Title was introduced as a new board member, succeeding Desi Foy, who resigned.

--The new Miss Ellsworth royalty is in the process of getting new dresses, the chamber was told. West St. Paul, Minn., royalty participated in the Cheese Curd Festival parade and were very complimentary about the experience, Farrell said.

--The name of Dr. Shines Car Wash was drawn from a fish bowl as the winner of a free 2007 chamber membership in a drawing for festival sponsors.