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WILDWOOD – Summer break may be in full swing, but several Wildwood High School juniors and seniors are still hard at work on their futures through a grant awarded to the school.

In January, the district was awarded $250,000 from the state Department of Education to launch the College and Career Readiness Partnership Grant, which helps fund academic and career-based programs for upperclassman and works with Atlantic Cape Community College.

School officials have also worked with local businesses to give students real-world experience as well.

“The College and Career Readiness partnership grant has been an incredibly valuable addition to the academic, guidance, and career related offerings available at Wildwood High School,” said Superintendent Kenyon Kummings in a press release. “The design of the grant has meshed perfectly with the district's strategic plan and the goal of providing our students the wrap-around services needed to ensure their successful preparation for college and careers.”

In the spring, the grant helped present five Saturday sessions at Atlantic Cape, which helped students explore career options and interests. During the week of June 20, students also began a five-day summer “boot camp.”

Josepha Penrose, supervisor of curriculum and instruction for the district, said it’s been important to use some of the grant funds during the summer to help show students colleges and possible career paths.

“At this point, they’re really just getting exposure. So many of the kids don’t realize what the possibilities are for them or what possible jobs might go along with their interest. Some of them don’t really even know what their interests are,” she said. “That’s been a big part of the Atlantic Cape program to drill down what their interests might be.”

Over the summer, the school will offer a series of college trips as well as a variety of industry field trips.

“A lot of our kids, it’s hard for them to visit a college so this grant is a great opportunity to take them,” she said, noting that some of the students go to college without first visiting the campus.

 “Some of these kids have never seen the places they are going to go,” she said. “Five or six students are going [to New Jersey City University] from our graduating class this year, so we’re going to arrange a trip for them.”

Penrose said that the summer programs also allow the school to bring in as many students as they can over the summer to keep connecting with them.

“You never know where it’s going to lead when you spend time with the student in a smaller, more individualized setting,” she said.

In addition to the grant, the school has also worked with other businesses that have helped provide further funding. This year, Wildwood High School and Chartwells brought the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe Certification to seniors in the school’s home economics class, which was paid for through the Daniel Tanner Foundation.

Hands-on learning also came through the Morey’s organization.

“The school has had a longstanding relationship with the Morey’s, who have generously provided in-kind and financial assistance with a number of different programs over the years,” said Principal Phillip Schaffer in a press release. “This is a natural extension of that relationship and a fantastic chance for our kids to test out a variety of job experiences.”

Penrose said that because Morey’s Piers has a wide variety of jobs, it gives the students the ability to see many different options before they make a decision about what path they want to take.

Newly hired structured learning experiences teacher James Clarke said in a press release that this year’s learning experiences included tours with a focus on maintenance as well as the finance and marketing end of operations of the pier.

Next year, Clarke said, the curriculum will expand to include hospitality hotels, resorts, food and beverages, culinary arts, games, merchandise, accounting, sales, public relations and operations for both the pier and water park.

While Penrose said she’s not sure if the district will get another grant, school staff members hope that they will be able to keep the momentum.

 “It’s given us a lot of freedom to work on plans that have been in our mind,” she said.

The College and Career Readiness Partnership Grant was awarded to the school through a competitive application process targeted at multiple high schools throughout New Jersey. The program will run through August.

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