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PURCHASE LINE: Students learning real-world skills in classes

by By SIERRA BERRINGER and HOPE HANKINSON, Gazette Student News Reporters on October 18, 2013 11:00 AM

PURCHASE LINE — Purchase Line High School students involved in the Specialized Vocational Skills Program are preparing for life after high school by going hands-on. As graduation comes soon for some of the students, it’s time to get serious about what they’re going to do afterward. The program has helped the students by showing them different career options such as car detailing and greenhouse maintenance.

One of the biggest projects the program does currently is car detailing. This process includes vacuuming, applying Armor All and washing the outside of the vehicles. The students do the entire process from start to finish just like a job. They ask their supervisor for help when needed, and as special-education teacher Matthew Scott said, “They can be fired from their jobs, just like a (paid) job.”

However, the instructors wanted the students to see that detailing was more than just a hobby, so they planned a career day.

The students were taken to Freedom Chrysler in Northern Cambria and were introduced to a professional car detailer.

How can teachers and students get involved? A sign-up sheet is always available in the high school office and the students use that list to choose whose car they will be cleaning that week.

The main motivation for the teachers is, “To teach the students how to use skills to do their best in a career,” said Scott.

Another project that the program does involves the maintenance of their greenhouse. Not only do the students help plant and maintain the plants, they also eat some of them for snacks. A lot of vegetables from the plants are eaten and sometimes the students get to take extras home.

One of the students, Tonya Patterson, said, “One of the teachers next to our classroom, her cat ate her plant and we brought it (the plant) back to life.” 

Some of the students who said the greenhouse was their favorite project include David Granat, Stanley Wyno and Randy Patterson.

When the students were asked what they like about car detailing, Granat said, “washing the car” as his favorite part.

Caitlin Keith said: “Cleaning the car out and the washing.”

Wyno said, “Everything, but really washing it.”

Randy Patterson also said he liked “the Armor All-ing.”

Everyone agreed that the car detailing was a fun class project.

Anyone interested in having their car detailed to help the students learn more about the workforce can sign up in the high school office.

Scholastic Reading Counts

Purchase Line junior high students are engaged in reading as part of Scholastic Reading Counts, a reading incentive program designed to motivate students to read. In the Reading Counts program, students select their own books to read; each book has a number of points it is worth based on the difficulty of the book.

When the students are done reading they take a 10-point quiz; if they pass the quiz, students will get the points for that book. Students win through competitions and prizes.

This program is being used nationwide through a program created and maintained by the Scholastic company. According to the Scholastic Reading Counts website, it “is an independent reading program for Grades K–12 which combines reading practice and software-based reading assessment … proven to develop reading skills, help raise test scores, and motivate students to achieve reading success.”

The Reading Counts program was introduced at Purchase Line last year after a couple of teachers visited with Cambria Heights to get a better idea of what it is. Last year, winners had a lunch provided by Luigi’s Ristorante in Clymer.

Seventh grade needs 25 points, eighth needs 30 points and ninth needs 35 points. To help the students, each English class provides one period a week to read and students are encouraged to carry their books throughout the school day to read during any opportunity in other classes.

Each individual teacher requires so many pages a week. The prize for this year’s winner is a movie and a treat. Also, to keep track of competition, a display is set up outside the high school library.

“The hope is to add a grade level each year,” said reading teacher Eric Thomas.

“The reasoning to having the Reading Counts program is to help students become better independent readers. Students will benefit from the Reading Counts program because their reading comprehension and fluency will improve, and the overall goal is for students to enjoy reading on their own,” said Thomas.

“This program will help improve students’ self-esteem and reading skills, and also, in the long run, with other classes. It is neat to see students talking about their books amongst each other, passing them around,” said English teacher Karen Conrad.


Purchase Line High School students, from left, David Granat, Stanley Wyno, Randy Patterson and Caitlyn Keith agreed that they enjoy learning to detail cars in their class.

They recently shadowed a professional car detailer at Freedom Chrysler in Northern Cambria to prepare for their class project. (Sierra Berringer/Purchase Line High School/Submitted photo)

The specialized Vocational Skills Program at Purchase Line High School maintains a greenhouse to help students learn job skills. Students Tonya Patterson and Ernest Piper displayed some of the plants. (Sierra Berringer/Purchase Line High School/Submitted photo)

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