May 21st was the first day of work for hundreds of seniors. "Work," as in unpaid, six-week, spring internship work.
According to GHS Guidance Chair Linda Woods, who coordinates the program, the internships "get them out of the building" after completing coursework, AP exams, and finalizing college plans. It also removes them from the equation while underclassmen are still studying.
"But getting them out is secondary," said Woods. "Internships have an educational component because the students are accountable to their employers. Your mother is not allowed to call you in sick," she added.
"And students get to see what it's like being in a career they're interested in. Sometimes they change their minds," said Woods. "That's okay. It's successful even if it's not what they thought it would be."
Teacher, Florist, Conservationist, Gift Shop
Patch caught up with a half dozen GHS seniors at their work sites to see how they are faring.
First stop was the top of Greenwich Avenue, where Maddie Harding was busy tidying shelves at Two's Company, a family-owned gift and accessories shop that opened in October 2011. Harding, who will attend Bucknell University next fall, said, "It's really fun to get new merchandise and open up the boxes and see what's in them."
Harding also confessed that she does her own gift shopping at the store. "It's a great place for frames, scarves, jewelry and things for the house. Plus, everything is pretty affordable."
A few blocks down the Avenue at intern Justine Kahn who is headed to the College of William and Mary in the fall said, "I do a lot of 'market.' That means we get big flower shipments, and I clean them down, strip them, cut them, and water them."
Kahn, who also helps with office work including filing and billing, said of her boss, Colony owner Callie Craumer, "She is the easiest, best, nicest boss I could hope for. She explained to me that there are a lot of florists, so it's important to build a strong relationship with each customer. Establish a bond. "
Over at , the intern program coordinator Justine Domuracki said there are about a dozen GHS students on site. "...it lets the interns see school from the teachers' side. We ask them to work with kids, conferencing and helping them with writing, math and the 8th graders' Capstone projects."
CMS intern Tim Wyle who is headed to Gettysburg College in the fall is a science department intern working mainly with Jen Bressler, an 8th grade science teacher. "I'm wiped out at the end of the day," said Wyle. "But it's really fun."
Up Riversville Road at , interns Annette McHale and Julia Jandrisits, who applied together for their assignment, had just come in from escorting a group of 40+ preschoolers on a field trip. "We accompany the kids and walk the trails with a teacher naturalist," said Jandrisits who will attend Ohio Wesleyan in the fall.
"We help with the kids with the insect program, catching bugs in bug boxes. We've seen dragon fly nymphs, damsel flies and back swimmers," said McHale, who will attend Hampshire College in the fall. "We've also caught tadpoles, salamanders and today we caught a frog."
"And birds," exclaimed Jandrisits, who was excited about an upcoming Birds of Prey class for older students. "We'll be seeing birds like the turkey vulture, red tailed hawks, great horned owls, and barred owls."
"The kids are learning," said Jandrisits of the pre-schoolers. "But we're learning too," she said with a smile. "It doesn't feel like work, but at the end of the day our bodies collapse."
The girls' site supervisor, , events and communications manager at the center, suggested that members of the community go to greenwich.audubon.org to sign up for the Audubon e-newsletter to learn about the wide array of programming.
All the site advisors visited by Patch expressed how pleased they are with their GHS interns, which Linda Woods at GHS was glad to hear. "The interns get a work experience, but they also give an infusion of enthusiasm. Yes, we do get to show our kids off a little bit," she said over the phone, and it was clear she was smiling.