Success starts with showing up

Among the points made by new Wood County Schools Superintendent Will Hosaflook when he visited the newsroom last month was that he tries to instill in parents that not all students need to go on to a four-year college or university, but ALL students must develop a skill that will carry them into a career after high school graduation.

That might mean enrolling in technical programs during high school that could translate into a certificate or lead to an apprenticeship. It might mean getting an internship or working toward an associates degree. There are lots of jobs out there for skilled workers who know how to be good employees and have a strong work ethic. There aren’t a lot of jobs for kids who coast through school without bothering to plan for their futures.

And, while specialized skills are important — welding, for example — another set of skills will go just as far with an employer. Showing up to work on time, staying organized, budgeting … even remaining drug-free and a responsible user of social media.

As Hosaflook put it, there are programs in place in Wood County Schools to help students learn all of it. But it starts with showing up.

“We can’t help them if they aren’t here,” he said.

Parents concerned with their children’s futures must start with the present — are they getting to school? Are they getting their homework finished on time? Are they managing their time responsibly?

But I would take it a step further. Can they feed themselves? Do they know how to do their own laundry and keep a decent house? Do they understand credit? Can they sew on a button? Can they focus on a task for longer than the length of a commercial break? Can they figure out how to pay bills, get an insurance policy, get a haircut on their own?

While our smartphones might put the answers to just about any question at our fingertips, they leave us dangerously inept in some things. A student hoping to make the leap from high school to a skilled career is going to need the critical thinking skills to operate in the real world.

Our region was built on the kinds of skills a student can obtain through technical programs, or even an employer training program. While our economy is transitioning, there is still good reason to believe those kinds of jobs will continue to be available to young people who prove they truly want them.

If they can’t even get themselves to school every day, or if they expect the world to be handed to them on a platter, those jobs will go to someone else.

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Speaking of skills, I know I’m a bit late to the party on this one, but I loved seeing the photos from Camp Ruffin’ It, the Humane Society of Parkersburg’s program for teaching kids the responsibility and skills needed to take care of a dog. The dogs pick up a few skills along the way, too.

There is another session this month, and I hope it has the same level of success in seeing the participating dogs picked up for adoption or rescue.

Five of the eight dogs in last month’s session were picked for rescue based on the photos of them shared online. That means they will go to rescue organizations in other states with higher adoption rates.

Local folks, if you saw a photo of a dog that pulled at your heart strings, but didn’t get to the shelter in time to meet the animal — and if you are willing and able to fulfill all the responsibilities these kids learned about during camp — go back and ask to see some of the other animals. The shelter staff won’t make it “ruff” on you to find your new best friend.

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