Article by Richard Wang
(originally published in the February 2016 Spirit of One, school newspaper)
The sound of muffled vacuum cleaning and flushing toilets permeate the hallways and bathrooms of Valley Christian School. Here, freshman Aiden Gehrke is sitting after a two-hour school cleaning, one of his part-time jobs. He works 8-10 hours per week after school at Valley Christian as a cleaning assistant.
Gehrke, who is also on the football team, said that it is nice to have a part-time job in high school for financial purposes, including the following: saving for college, paying for his hunting equipment, and covering many other small expenses that add up quickly. Gehrke is a janitorial assistant; his job is to collect garbage, clean the top of the lockers, wipe the windows, and sometimes sweep the rocks off the playground equipment. He gets paid $7.25 per hour, 2 hours per day for three days a week. Gehrke makes $170 per month. He also has a partner, Nehemias Gutierrez, who works the same amount of time, and gets paid the same amount of money.
His work, Gehrke has found, has affected him significantly. “In the area of character building, it teaches me responsibility and how to have a great work ethic,” said Gehrke.
Meanwhile, senior Caleb Cooley described his on-campus work experiences as enjoyable and stress-relieving. Working five hours a week since his junior year, Cooley has been with the after school care program,where he plays with the kids, takes care of them, and makes sure they behave and have fun until their parents arrive. His expenses include saving for college and occasionally dining out. He only works three days a week so that on other days he can focus on his school work.
“It helps you prepare for being a parent. It also allows me to make a positive impact on the kids I am working with,” said Cooley.
The expectation of students involved with community service and work experience is always a central part of Valley Christian School’s focus—— VCS requires 80 hours of unpaid service to graduate, according to the school office.
“I had a part-time job when I was in high school; I was the lifeguard and swimming instructor at the Y. I think it is good if you can balance school work and a job. Having a part-time job can help you learn a good work ethic and experience for the future,” said Tara Westpfahl, the middle/high school secretary.
Juggling high school and a part-time job is a tough act. The parents demand good grades, a social life requires cash, and functioning in general means getting a decent night of sleep. Somewhere in the middle, there’s a sweet spot of happiness. However, finding this elusive medium is easier said than done.
“I think they have to balance it. I don’t want people to give up the opportunities for sports, dramas, clubs, but I do think there’s a huge benefit for students who take the part-time job. They learn time management, having a boss, self discipline, and having some extra-money in their pockets,” said Brad Dunn, the school’s head administrator.
Senior Mike Dunn has worked at the Oshkosh Convention Center for 2 years. He thinks that he does not have enough free time during the weekends. “Juggling your job with sports [is difficult]. Friday, I have my sports. Saturday, I have practice and my job. Sunday, I have church and homework. Luckily with my job, I can do my homework during the break time, so it does not affect my school much,” said Dunn.
Senior Ben Peterson, who also works at the Oshkosh Convention Center, just started his job in January. He said that his job entails setting up for weddings and some other special events, as well as working a bit with technology. “Scheduling is the only challenge with work, between athletics, schoolwork, and other activities,” said Peterson.
The contrast between Gehrke’s, Cooley’s, Dunn’s and Peterson’s stories highlight not only the variation in work experiences for part-time jobs in high school, but also the different opinions that surround the part-time employment expectations, which overall named it a good experience.