ELLINWOOD — Graduation from high school is major transition for students and signals the beginning of a new era of independence, increasing freedom, jobs and careers.
While some are confused about what direction to take, others know what they will do and will never veer.
What every student will need is a resume and experience with a professional job interview.
To help high schools seniors gain experience and practice, Ellinwood High School has for 15 years required students to build an exit portfolio which has the students’ resume, letters of reference from a coach, boss or teacher, and goals. The student wrote an essay describing him or her and what is important. It also includes an art project or something that the pupil did well and samples of thank you letters.
“We’ve been practicing in English class that you can’t say um and well,” said Abigail Watts, senior. During the interview, “we talk about goals and what we’re like. I think it will be a help.”
Saying “um” is a habit that Abigail has and one she is trying to change.
In addition, now the students will have an answer when the interviewer says, “tell me about your.”
Watt plans to attend school in Dodge City, learning automotive repair so that she can be in a NASCAR Pit Crew.
Another student had an example of the board work she learned in music in her portfolio. “It’s very cool,” said Principal Shawn Henderson. “Board work trains them to be music readers.” He said that music teacher Meredith Duling emphasizes board work.
Last Wednesday, each of the seniors had an interview with two teachers at the school. The past, the interview process has also been done off-site at a business.
Sample questions include strengths and weaknesses, best and worst experiences as EHS, five words that describe your character, define cooperation, and how do you feel about taking no for an answer.
The teachers rated the student on punctuality, appearance, physical bearing, vocal quality, grammar, confidence and cooperation. There was room on the back page of the interview questions for personalized comments. “I think it adds a nice touch to the whole process,” said Henderson.
The students dress up for the interview and didn’t know who would interview them to allow the senior to feel the true experience of an interview.
The portfolios and interview are graded.
“It wasn’t as stressful and nerve wracking as I thought,” said Chelsea Day, student. “It was pretty laid back. It was useful to prepare for future interviews.”
While they are not interviewing for a specific job, the students are also evaluating their experience at EHS. They are asked if EHS prepared them for their next journey.
Ellinwood Grade School Principal Eric Sjogren, who also participated in interviewing, found it particularly interesting because he started with the district 12 years ago and has watched the kids transition from children to young adults, from egocentric thinking to thinking about others.
Henderson said that in the future, they would consider technological upgrades such as a Powerpoint presentation by the student.