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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Working hard for the money

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Photo by Clover Birdsell. The student participants of the WIA program completed a summer of campus improvements. (Left to right, first row) Gail Travelstead, Salem High School head custodian; Emily Foster, 2009 graduate; Jessie Turner, 2009 graduate; Mike Beck, 2009 graduate; Kyla Wood, 2008 graduate; Shane Smith, 2009 graduate; Larry LaRue, grounds keeper; Ray Hollis, maintenance supervisor; Jared Drain, sophomore; (second row) Clint Ray, senior; Michael Perkins, 2009 graduate; Nathan Bales, student supervisor; Dustin Ray, senior.
Salem Schools students and faculty returning to campus in August will see a "noticeable difference" in the campus, with new landscaping, painting and cleaning highlighting the school grounds around every corner, said Wayne Guiltner, Salem High School principal.

The program was made available for Salem Schools through the 2009 Economic Stimulus supporting the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.

The students have received training from campus staff in electrical and how the building and grounds are prepared for the school year: waxing floors, spray washing the outside of the building and lawn mowing, Guiltner said.

"It's hands down a positive experience. The reason that it really works here is they are working with our maintenance supervisor," he said. "We are very fortunate to have him here."

Before Ray Hollis was the maintenance supervisor for Salem Schools, he held jobs across the United States, performing maintenance on food processing plants, a power plant and a metal fabrication plant.

"We did a lot of projects [this summer] that we wouldn't have been able to do otherwise," Hollis said. The students were made primarily responsible for the upkeep of the 20-acre campus grounds and received training in specialty projects.

The extra hands freed up the regular Salem maintenance staff to pursue projects such as re-sealing the gymnasium bleachers and replacing all lighting in the elementary school, he said.

"It's been like having a bunch of apprentices," Hollis said. "I think they have learned a thing or two and I hope that they will come back next summer."

The Greyhound Football field is in better condition than previous years, Hollis said.

"I learn stuff from Hollis every day. He is a very intelligent man," said Nathan Bales, 20, of Salem. Bales supervised the crew of six Salem students working full-time on the campus. Bales is a junior at Harding College in Searcy, majoring in business management and vocational ministry. He is a 2007 Salem High School graduate.

"The toughest of jobs was cleaning up ice storm debris, removing dead limbs and renovating planters in front of the high school. It's gone really well," he said. "I was the only one that worked outside last year. Now, having five people has been a big help."

The group has grown closer since work began on June 1, Bales said. He looks forward to next year as long as stimulus funds allow.

The entire experience has been a great benefit to all involved, he said.

"It comes back to that they have had to work, and they see what the custodian and maintenance go through," Bales said. "I think that as their friends began to make it dirty they may tell them how hard they had to work to make it good. I think they will take a little more pride in their school."

The time the students were able to spend on their school and with each other is ending with a note of success and accomplishment.

"Not only do they have a job for the summer, in my eyes they are actually getting training they will be able to use in a job later on," Guiltner said. "As long as it is offered, we will definitely put it to use. We've been able to do more this summer than we ever have. We needed it."

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