WACS seniors get helping hand

Scott Cooper

WESTFIELD — The Senior English Project at Westfield Academy and Central School aims at helping seniors formulate plans for their lives beyond graduation, board of education members learned recently.

High school Guidance Counselor Scott Cooper and English teacher Laura Wilson outlined the purpose and goals of the senior project in which students write a research paper comparing and contrasting either two colleges or two career paths.

“Many of the students already know what career they want to pursue, but not what college they want to attend,” Wilson said. “In those cases, we tell them they need to consider cost, financial aid, housing, size, demographics, and so on before making a decision.”

Seniors who decide to compare two colleges must research all of the things they have discussed as well as majors and requirements, and success rate at finding employment after graduation from each college, Wilson said.

Students who opt to compare two career paths, must research the education or training required, significant points regarding each career, the median hourly wage, and the likelihood of finding employment, Cooper and Wilson told the board.

Laura Wilson

In addition to the research paper, students also prepare a resume and cover letter using correct MLA format.

“The cover letters the kids write are to the colleges they are considering — basically ‘why you should choose me,'” Cooper said.

“Students have said, ‘This is a great idea’ and we find it’s been a very positive experience for them,” Wilson told the board.

In another matter, High School Principal Ivana Hite told the board that she has confirmed Feb. 6 as the date when representatives from the Renaissance Campus in West Seneca will come to speak with students about avoiding drug addiction.

According to its website, The Renaissance Campus, created by the organization Kids Escaping Drugs, is a facility that provides “a safe and supportive environment where adolescents can recover, learn responsibility, and re-enter the community with tools needed to live a drug-free lifestyle.”

As part of its addiction prevention program, Renaissance Campus offers peer to peer presentations for students. Adolescents currently in the rehabilitation program speak directly to students about their experiences, Hite told board members.

“We all know deaths from drugs are high,” Hite said. “It is important for our students to meet with people who have actually lived through drug addiction and survived it.”

Board President Steve Cockram noted that three seats on the board will be on the ballot in the May 2018 election. Cockram, Phyllis Hagen and Deanne Manzilla all have terms that are expiring. Each member spoke about their personal reasons for seeking a seat on the board.

Cockram said he wanted to have a seat at the table to help determine his children’s educational opportunities. “Ultimately, it’s all about the kids and giving them the best educational opportunities possible,” he said.

Manzilla said she attended board meetings for seven years before seeking a seat on the board.

“There was a vacancy and I didn’t want somebody who really didn’t know what was going on filling that vacancy, so I ran,” she said. “We’ve got a good thing going here at Westfield. If anybody wants to be on the board, now is a good time to consider it.”

Hagen, who has been on the board for 18 years, said she ran for a seat just after she moved to the community.

“This school has a lot of good things going on and I wanted to help continue them,” she said.