Oriole Work Based Learning Academy became a family for recent graduate.

September 28, 2021

Oriole Work Based Learning Academy became a family for recent graduate.

Oriole News is a presentation of Ludington Area School District in partnership with Mason County Press. 

By Kate Goodman, MCP correspondant. 

LUDINGTON — Unlike other students in high school, Krystal Martzolff has not always had an easy life. “She’s a real fighter and has had to be,” said Melanie Tomaski, lead instructor of the Oriole Work Based Learning Academy.

Martzolff graduated in 2021 from Oriole Academy. 

“During my freshman or sophomore year, I was in and out of school due to harassment at school and at home,” she said. “I would sleep all day and wouldn’t go to school.” After enrolling in the academy, Martzolff soon found a group of people to call her family.

Since a child, Martzolff said she has struggled with legal matters regarding her family, an impact that has caused her to suffer with “regular education.”

The academy was started in 2019 and helps students who are not on track to graduate high school on time, according to Tomaski. 

“Every student is different and not anyone can get into the program,” Tomaski said. 

The academy requires the minimum amount of credits and a work based learning aspect that the state requires to earn a high school diploma. 

Going in once a week, Martzolff liked how the instructors would work on your schedule and be there to support her if needed. Making sure the required classes she needed were done in time for graduation.

“It’s flexible,” said Tomaski, “they’re allowed to work at their own pace.”

In addition, Martzolff quickly formed a bond with teachers.  “Instead of being just teachers, they were there for everything,” she said. “I never had a mother and instructors Melanie Tomaski and Michelle Holtrust were like mothers to me.”

“It’s not just about grades,” stated Tomaski, “it’s deeper than that.”

Since graduating, Krystal Martzolff has found a passion for helping people. Martzolff hopes to one day pursue a degree in business management, and maybe in the long run work in the medical field.  “It feels good to make people’s day,” she said. Although not enrolled in college yet, Martzolff is currently working at Walmart and hopes to save up more before going out on her own. 

“Students don’t have to be locked into the job,” said Tomaski, “We just help them get more skills to know what they want to do after school.” 

Not only do the students get to experience a wide range of occupations, but they learn employability skills, safety, and laws for the workforce. “During our weekly group sessions, we brainstorm questions. Sometimes discussing the difficult conversations employees must have with their employers, like sexual harassment and what to do if violence occurs,” Tomaski said.

To learn more about Oriole Work Based Learning Academy, click here. 

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