East Lawrence High School seniors participated in an “Adult Camp” on their school campus last Thursday. During the program, the students were introduced to basic “adulting” skills that will be expected of them after graduation, according to Lawrence County Career Coach Melissa Godsey, who organized the event.
Godsey said 84 seniors attended the Adult Camp and participated in 40-minute sessions that included Cooking Basics, First Impressions and Social Media, Work Ethic, Auto Care, Self Defense, Survival, Personal Finance, and Managing Stress.
“We tried to partner with the community to introduce the students to faces they may see in a potential career field. The more faces they can connect with from outside the school, that’s another connection they can make from the community. This is just as much about networking,” ELHS teacher and counselor Lindsey Sizemore said.
Sizemore, who helped coordinate sessions for the day, said the event wasn’t about grading the students or prepping them for more academics.
“This is not something they’re doing for us; they’re doing it for them,” she said. “When they graduate, they’re not going to have this support system.”
Godsey said she got the idea to host an Adult Camp after hearing about another career coach from Oxford County who had set up a similar scenario for his students.
She said Tommy Woods shared what his students had learned in Oxford and passed the information along to other career coaches at an annual conference Godsey attended at the Alabama 4-H Center this past October.
Godsey said eight volunteers were present at East Lawrence on Thursday to help the students practice some of these tips hands-on or dive deeper into discussion.
In an Auto Care session, Michael Mcleod, the general manager of Decatur Toyota, briefed students on basic car maintenance tips and had participants demonstrate checking the oil and changing a tire.
Kylin Edwards, a participating senior, stepped up to challenge and proved to herself as well as her fellow classmates that “changing a tire and maintaining your vehicle is not just a man’s job.”
“I feel powerful! I don’t have to call my dad if I were on the side of the road, I know I could change my own tire,” she said after tightening the car’s lug knuts on a freshly changed tire. “I didn’t know I had tools in my car, and now I can look inside and I’ll have everything I need.”
Edwards said Mcleod taught students to search their vehicle owner’s manual to find where the spare tire and car-jack are located. She said she also learned how to tell if a car was low on oil and what to do when checking the oil.
She said she enjoyed the Auto Care session but felt Personal Finance was the most important session she’d attended that day.
“When my mom gives me an allowance, I’m like, ‘Yeah! Weekend money,’ but now I know I don’t have to spend it all at once. I could keep some of it and save it for later,” she said. “When I do get money from now on, I might spend $30 on gas and eating out, but I’ll start saving the rest. My mom’s not always going to be there to give me weekend money.”
The Personal Finance course was offered by CB&S Bank representative Jonathan Sherill, who taught students all about personal savings, basic money management skills and savings and checking account monitoring.
Edwards said she also enjoyed the Cooking Basics session with Lawrence County Home Economics teacher Jill Woods.
In the session, Woods demonstrated baking cheddar biscuits from a copycat Red Lobster recipe. She discussed measurement tips, oven safety, and microwaving basics as she followed the recipe.
Woods told students to keep their hands washed when preparing anything in the kitchen, covering food cross-contamination and other cleaning tips as well. She also included appliance safety and reminded students to check that all appliances were turned off after each use.
She said she had students in every session from varying experience levels.
“Some had never stepped foot in the kitchen, and some help mom or dad every night,” she said. “The main thing I tried to impress upon them is not to be intimidated. You have directions in front of you; take them step-by-step. We also talked a little about hygiene in the kitchen, especially in light of the coronavirus and flu-season.”
Another student, Keirston Maclin, said he was impressed at how measuring ingredients accurately can make a significant impact on the final outcome.
“If I went home and tried to cook, I’ve had a problem with looking at the ingredients and following the directions,” said Maclin. “(Mrs. Woods) taught us to keep our hands clean and to make sure the ingredients are measured the same way they are in the recipe, so the meal comes out correctly.”
Edwards said she was also impressed with the accuracy of the measurements.
“I see my grandma and my mom in the kitchen, and they’re experienced. They don’t always have to measure out every ingredient. I really thought that was just a YouTube thing. I was just pouring in ingredients, but now I know the measurements really make a huge difference. Mrs. Woods made those biscuits taste exactly like Red Lobster,” she said.
Students at the Adult Camp also remembered what they were taught in their First Impressions session.
The session, which was taught by the University of North Alabama’s Director of Clinical Experience Christy Waters, covered professional dress for a job interview and social media presence.
“I tell students, social media is a long-time footprint,” said Waters. “Employers want to be able to see you online, and they look at your network, your interests, your community service.”
She said she advised seniors to “lockdown” their social media sites as much as possible by using the site’s privacy settings.
“For young adults who are searching for a career, you want to push more positive posts more publicly moving forward,” she added.
She told students it takes seven seconds to make a first impression, and 55 percent of that impression is determined by a person’s dress and by their body language.
“Think about your situation and fit yourself to the culture of the profession and the community you want to settle in,” she advised. “Adapt without compromising your basic morals or changing who you are. Research the school you want to get into, student population, and general interests. This gives you an easy leg in the door. Do your research.”
Godsey said she hopes to incorporate more sessions and topics in another Adult Camp next year.
“I knew finance would be important to include, but next year I’d like to add an etiquette session and have driving tips from a police officer,” she said. “The officer would tell them what to do if they are pulled over, or what to do when they’re in a wreck. Do you call 911 or do you call Mom and Dad? I’d also like to focus on employment training. The session would teach them what a first day of training on the job would be like, and include an orientation into customer service.”
Following the success of the program, Godsey said she plans to host the second Adult Camp next school year in a more centralized location to accommodate seniors from all over Lawrence County.
“This has been a good experience,” said Edwards. “It’s very productive and very needed. Mrs. Godsey really cares about us and our well-being, and what happens to us when we get out of high school. I definitely feel I’m more prepared for the future.”