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Beloit Students Offered Hand-On Experience Through Craftsman with Character Program

This fall semester, Beloit Memorial High School introduced a new program called Craftsmen with Character, which is a job shadow/job skill course that partners with multiple local businesses including Frito Lay, Edgerton Gear, CCI, The Morse Group, Scot Forge, City of Beloit and Blackhawk Technical College.

The program currently has seven students who spend a portion of their day at one of the partner sites. Deb Prowse, Beloit Memorial High School Academy Coach, teaches the class. She first got the idea to start the program after attending a presentation at Edgerton Gear, where owner Dave Hataj starts this program.

After Prowse saw Hataj’s presentation, she spoke with Rob Hendrickson from Frito Lay and Kelly Crosby from Scot Forge who both wanted to do the program with Beloit Memorial High School students job shadowing at their sites.

Each site hosts the students for three weeks, usually one or two students at a time. Blackhawk Technical College supplied a bus for students to get to the sites and back to high school for the rest of their classes during the school day.

“We have companies that have stepped forward,” said Jeffrey Stenroos, director of career, technical and alternative education at Beloit Memorial. “They don’t show the kids, instead they have the kids doing it and the companies have put forth the funds to cover the bus.”

The seven students in the program are Ayden Armao, Dustin Foss, Armando Gonzalez, Kaleef Hobson-Thomas, Curtez McAllister, Mitchell Stuessy and Trinity Winfield. All students are juniors, except Armao who is a sophomore.

Armao said what attracted him to the program was the job experience and to “see what’s out there and see what I might want to do and what I don’t want to do.”

“I really enjoyed it because I felt like it was a good opportunity,” McAlister said. “It gave me a variety of different fields to look at, especially if you’re not sure which specific one you want to go into yet and it allows you to look at different things you could possibly do. It gives you a good education that you may not get for free.”

Hobson-Thomas spoke about his time at Frito Lay and how he’s learned how to clean the machines and what they used to package their chips and send them out to different locations.

Winfield, the only girl in the program, spoke about her time at the City of Beloit where she learned about the sewer works, and how to clean the city water and put it back into the river.

Stuessy has so far worked at CCI where he’s learned framing and hot to install windows. Stuessy has also learned different safety aspects of construction, what dangers there are and how roofers put plywood and shingles on the roof. Junior Gonzalez worked at the City of Beloit like Winfield and learned about wastewater and how they find out if the water is clean.

McAlister has seen many aspects of manufacturing jobs that he’s interested in, especially at Scot Forge and The Morse Group.

“They are both tied right now from what I’ve experienced so far, because they both have good benefits working there. They both have things that I’m interested in and it’s just a good opportunity all the way around the board for both companies,” McAlister said.

Foss learned that he didn’t like being a machine operator, however carpentry at CCI caught his attention and is something he may look into for his future.

“One of the best parts about being at these places is that a lot of the people there are very friendly and welcoming,” Armao said. “Not overbearing, just friendly and welcoming.”