293 Students Earn YES Certification

The 2014-’15 YES program year came to an end in style with 11 districts sending their best dressed graduates to St. Nicholas Hall in Minersville. This year a total of 293 students were awarded the YES certificate, with 50 of those students achieving perfect attendance.
It was a year of firsts for Hazleton and Wyoming Valley West high schools as they each graduated their first YES class in school history.
Here are some quick YES facts from this past year:

  • A total of seventeen (17) school districts offered the YES Program for the 2014-15 school year. They include Blue Mountain, Crestwood Area, Hazleton, Mahanoy Area, Minersville Area, North Schuylkill, Pine Grove Area, Pittston Area, Pottsville Area, Schuylkill Haven, Shenandoah Valley, Tamaqua Area, and Williams Valley, Wyoming Valley West high schools. The Schuylkill Intermediate Unit #29 also offered the program, as well as, Fort LeBoeuf and Central Tech in Erie County. Total enrollment was 775 students.
  • 56 tours were offered with 5 new tour hosts opening their doors to YES students. Those new tour hosts were: American Eagle Outfitter DC, Huntsinger Farms, Tredegar, Dandelion Farm Equestrian Center, and Multi-Plastic Extrusions. They offered 5 tours this year. Currently, there are 47 businesses offering tours. To date, 310 tours have been coordinated since the program began in 2006 with just 1 school district.
  • Mock interviews were conducted with YES program participants. Each student provided a cover letter and resume and the interview was customized to the student’s career interests. Approximately six (6) schools and 375 students participated.
  • Penn State University will continue to offer a one-time scholarship to all YES Northeast graduates who attend the Hazleton and Schuylkill campuses. To date, PSU has awarded 45 total scholarships. McCann School of Business and Technology has granted 3 YES graduates their Imagine America Scholarship, which applies to campuses in Allentown, Carlisle, Dickson City, Hazleton, Pottsville, Sunbury, and Wilkes-Barre.

YES Grad Excelling in Trades

Back in late March 2012, Danny Altobelli faced an interesting situation. He, along with the rest of Deidre Anchorstar’s YES class would be taking a tour of Yuengling Brewery to learn all about the history of the company, as well as the career opportunities available at one of the largest employers in Schuylkill County. While most students would be absolutely thrilled at the thought of learning more about Yuengling, Danny on the other hand, had a reason to be timid. His own mother, Debbie, would be his class’ tour guide for the day.

What could have been a terribly embarrassing experience for Danny, turned into a very pleasant one, as he was only called on a few times. The subtle callouts weren’t the normal razzing you would expect, it was because of his familiarity with the plant. Even owner, Dick Yuengling, stopped by to give a few words of encouragement to the class. He also spoke very highly of Danny while he was there.

Pottsville YES Class with Dick Yuengling

It was this experience, coupled with many other previous visits to the plant that fueled Danny’s desire to be an electrician. This hands-on relationship between business and education is exactly what the YES program aims to accomplish. He found that out more and more as the course progressed. “I knew the course would provide useful knowledge about all aspects of the workforce,” he said. “It gives you the opportunity to see what job choices you have and how to prepare yourself for your career.”

Offering many tours over the years, Debbie has been a longtime supporter of the program and was excited by Danny’s decision to become a YES student. “I think the YES program is very important for students to take,” she said. “It gives them a wonderful opportunity to see what kinds of careers are out there, how to be professional and the opportunity to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be on the job.”

“After Danny took this course, I feel he gained more confidence and became more responsible in many ways. It gave him more drive to work hard for what he wants in a career and out of life.”

Danny went on to gain his YES certification, as well as his high school diploma and is expecting to graduate from Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in May 2015 with a degree in Electrical Technology. He has a job lined up at the Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville as an electrician when he graduates.

Cumulatively, the YES Program has put through over 4,000 students and has seen almost 1,200 graduates. Those 4,000 students have gone on over 275 tours since the program began in 2006. If you or your company would like to become involved with the program, please call the Council office at 570-622-0940.

Haven YES Students Complete Entrepreneurship Project

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Schuylkill Haven's YES class recently completed a hands-on project in conjunction with the entrepreneurship module. Students banded together to form a "business," that consisted of no more than six per team. They had to select a charity, set a financial goal of no less than $25 per team member, fill out a student activity permission for fund raiser form, and complete a business plan form. Three of the items on the business plan form included a statement about the charity, why it was selected, and a list of ways they plan on promoting it (via posters, announcements, video announcements, etc...). The project planning dates were November 3-7. During this time the students needed to get their choice of charity approved and the fundraiser form needed to be submitted for approval by the principal. The kick off for raising funds began on November 10 and ran until November 26. Students assigned one person in each group to be the treasurer and this individual had to drop off the monies collected at the end of each day. Students kept track of a profit and loss statement, although no expenses were allowed to be deducted.

The winning team, comprised of Tyler Schaeffer, Eden Boyer, Michael Potts, Genie Tucci, Justin Gerber and Caitlyn Brossman, raised $300 in total. They chose to donate the money to the American Cancer Society. A total of $1,200 was
raised by all teams who decided to donate their money to the Wounded Warriors Project, Petsmart Charities, American Heart Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research, Hillside SPCA and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

To add to this wonderful project, which was prepared by Schuylkill Haven's YES teacher Terri Keyworth, students visited Schaeffer's Harley Davidson and heard from local author and business owner, Rudy Gherghel. On their trip to Schaeffer's, students were able to tour all departments, learning about sales, marketing, maintenance, customer service, and the entrepreneurial spirit needed by the Schaeffer family to grow the business into what it is today. Gherghel hammered home that message in his talk with the students, explaining to them his own personal story of how he escaped Romania as a young boy and came to the United States in order to live out the American dream. The project is one example of how powerful the YES Northeast Program can be to students, uniting classroom education with knowledge from the business community.

YES Graduate Catches On At Local Employer

For the 2013-2014 school year, a total of 720 students enrolled in the YES Northeast Certificate Program class at their local high school. One of those students was a Pottsville student named Brandon Kreiger. Not unlike many of the youths enrolled in the program, he wanted to know what the workforce had in store for him.

“I took the class because I wanted to be better prepared for the workforce and know what I’m in for when I get out there,” said Kreiger. “It was Mrs. Delenick that told me I should take it. She definitely helped me more than any other teacher my senior year.”

Pottsville Area High School’s YES teacher, Pam Delenick, taught Brandon and the rest of her YES class about the many skills it takes to succeed in today’s workplace. Communications, health & safety, personal development, quality & technology, and teamwork were all topics covered in the curriculum. These skills were reiterated on the four tours that her class took at local facilities and were also the focus of discussion during presentations from classroom speakers who passed along their expertise.

For Brandon, the most important topic was the safety module within the program that covers everything from basic OSHA guidelines to ergonomics and wellness.

“The part that helped me most was the safety module,” said Kreiger. “At Cardinals Systems, they strictly enforce OSHA guidelines, so learning that in the classroom really helped in my transition to the workplace.”

Also helpful was the interview portion of the program, which quickly came into use just one day after his graduation when the Council coordinated an interview for him with longtime YES supporter, Cardinal Systems, Inc. in Schuylkill Haven.

“The interviewing portion also helped a lot in getting me in here,” he continued. “The Council helped me get an interview here and as soon as I walked in they could tell that I was a YES graduate based on how I dressed and carried myself.”

He was hired in a position that cut small parts, but after showing initiative, was given more responsibility and given a promotion. He’s currently is a sheer operator and a forklift driver.

It’s no surprise to hear how well Brandon is doing, given all the hard work he put into earning his YES Certificate, an accomplishment that 300 other local students accomplished. To receive that certificate, he had to earn his high school diploma, achieve a passing score on the Test of Adult Basic Education and Wonderlic Cognitive Ability tests, successfully pass a six panel drug screen, demonstrate an attendance of 95% or better and complete the 120-hour YES Northeast Curriculum.

With September comes the start of the new school year and more stories like Brandon’s will begin in local classrooms. The Council is constantly looking for more businesses to sign on to the program to offer tours, provide classroom speakers and preferred interviewing. If your business would like to be involved in the program, please call the Council office at 570-622-0940.