Oriole Work-Based Learning Academy launches, openings still available.

September 2, 2019

Oriole Work-Based Learning Academy launches, openings still available.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.
LUDINGTON —As the new school year launches, area high school students will find they have some more choices on the types of programs they may choose. Ludington High School is launching its Oriole Work-Based Learning Academy for students who may not fit into the traditional school model but would like to complete their diplomas while working and gaining career skills.

“This has been a couple years in the making,” said Ludington High School Principal Dan Mesyar. “Assistant Principal Steve Forsberg and I noticed that while traditional academic programs work for a lot of kids, and that many kids are also going to online learning, there were still students dropping out of school who hadn’t found their niche. Those students often get a job but what we hear from employers is that those workers are not getting the skills they need to advance, because they lack their diplomas and they lack guidance.”

Ludington Area Schools has developed the academy to include online course work, which is done once a week in the school, along with heavy intervention and, of course, a job, Mesyar said.

“Basically, it’s one day at school and the rest of the week at work,” Mesyar said. “But, with the school walking side by side the student/worker the entire time. By entering into this program, the student and his/her parents will allow school counselors to enter into their home and work with them on the necessities they need to keep them in school and keep them at work. This may mean helping with food, bills, gas, whatever the need is. It’s incentive based, though. When students do a good job they receive bonuses.

“I think it’s also important to emphasize that this is not a student program, this is a family program,” Mesyar said. “I think that’s what separates this from other programs in the state. We are helping families get on their feet.”

Mesyar said one of the keys to the program is the cooperation with local employers. He said several of the employers have offered to partner with the school.

“We are really proud of the team concept we have developed with this program,” Mesyar said.

Currently, the program is directed towards older high school students. Mesyar said the age ranges can be from 14 to 19. He added that the school is working with state officials to allow the school to work with young adults, up to 22-years-old, who did not complete their high school diplomas.

“This is really a high bred of alternative education,” he said. “Students have many choices here in Mason County for alternative education. There are all online options, project based learning, and if the student wants to work and make money while they are working on getting their high school diploma, then this is a good choice.

Mesyar said the program is different than career tech offered by the West Shore Educational Service District, because most of the Oriole WBL Academy students do not have enough credits to qualify for CTE.

Mesyar added that Melanie Tomaski is the district’s director of work based learning and is overseeing the program.

The program has open enrollment. Students or parents interested in learning more about the program may call 231-845-3880 or stop by the high school.

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