At 1 p.m., and not a minute later, Tuesday, 16 teenagers crossed the threshold of Challenge House No. 1 to begin the second day of Attitude, Training and Teamwork program to develop their job skills.
This is the ninth year Challenge House, a Christian organization, has hosted this program for Hopkinsville's high school students. Wally Bryan, Challenge House board member, said the program is financially made possible through a grant from AT&T.
"We expect the students to come in and show a great attitude of wanting to be here and learn," Bryan said. "We expect them to show an attitude of wanting to be trained and learn what it takes to be a worker some day. Also the importance of teamwork."
Among other program rules, punctuality is strictly enforced, said Bryan. Students are required to be inside the facility before the door locks at 1 p.m. daily. If students are locked out, they cannot graduate from the program.
"We have rules here. If you don't show a good attitude and you don't show a desire to be trained and you don't show an attitude of teamwork, then basically … come back next year," Bryan said.
During the first week of programming, four 4-hour days are dedicated to boot camp. The boot camp features visiting local businessmen and women, and community leaders who speak with the students in small groups about various aspects of the workforce.
Michelle Wilson, operations and administrative coordinator, said students learn resume writing skills, how to complete job applications and how to be successful when interviewing for jobs. They also will learn about etiquette and customer service, she added.
"(The students) need to learn what it is going to take for them to get into the workforce. Our whole mission for Challenge House in general is work over welfare. We are not a hand-out non profit. We encourage work over welfare. That is what we are teaching these teens … they need to get a job, and be effective in the community and then take those steps needed to get into the career they want to be in."
The second week of programming is dedicated to students completing 16 hours of job shadowing.
Each job shadowing experience is uniquely tailored to the student's desires. When filling out the program application, students are asked what three careers they are interested in. Of those three, the Challenge House team works with the students to determine the profession they are most interested in pursuing, Wilson said.
Afterward, team members reach out to local agencies and businesses to secure job shadowing opportunities for the teens.
In the past, Challenge House has placed teens in job shadowing positions in the court system, Jenny Stuart Health, Hopkinsville Fire Department and Hopkinsville Police Department, Wilson said. Teens also have job shadowed at local salons, restaurants and mechanic shops.
Wilson said the success stories are the reason why Challenge House continues to offer this program. Wilson said it is a very rewarding experience.
Eric Grubbs, incoming Hopkinsville High School senior and resident of the Challenge House No. 1 neighborhood, said this is the second time he has participated in the program.
"I did this program a couple of years ago as a freshman and I remember it being a great experience, so I figured why not try it again," Grubbs said. "Now that I am older and more mature, I realize I can gain a lot of really good networking relationships and knowledge from this."
Grubbs said he wants to gain knowledge about joining the workforce. He hopes to pursue a career as a professional athlete, photographer or an entrepreneur. So far, his job shadowing experience has not been determined.
"I really just want to focus on the details so I can better myself in the future. I know I can always think about the connections I've made with the people I've met and use that," he said.
When students complete the program and graduate, each individual will be presented with a $200 paycheck.
Grubbs encouraged all of his colleagues to stick with the program and see it through.
"You get a lot of knowledge from this experience and you pick up a lot of skills … you meet a lot of people, plus who doesn't like making money? Most people stay in this program just to learn how to do this and that in the workforce," he said.
This session's graduation is slated for 5 p.m. June 21 at Challenge House No. 1, 1101 Central Ave.
A second session of the program will be offered July 8-19 at Challenge House No. 3 on South Fowler street. To apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications will be accepted through June 30.