FLINT, MI — A handshake, good eye contact and speaking confidence are just three things the HYPE program teaches students in the Flint area.
Now, students at Flint Southwestern Classical Academy will also have the opportunity to learn these skills.
Eight students graduated on Tuesday, February 22 from the inaugural class of the HYPE (Helping Young People with Employment) program at Southwestern.
The program gives students the tools to be productive, responsible and self-determined members of society, according to Angela Lots, founder and executive director of the HYPE program.
“As we both know, you can get in and out of a job in the same interview,” Lots told MLive-The Flint Journal. “The important thing is to get the job. That’s what it’s about. I know that as an adult I sometimes get nervous about going to an interview – imagine what 16 and 17 year olds go through.
The 8-week program teaches students what employers are looking for, how to market themselves, develop interview skills, write a CV, perform mock interviews, build credit and even open their own bank/savings account .
James Clark, an 18-year-old senior, said the program helped him improve his confidence and interview skills.
Clark, who now works with Flint Innovative Solutions, said working with a group and doing mock interviews from both sides of the table has stood out and helped him grow.
HYPE is organized and offered through the Flint Community Education Initiative partnership with the district.
Mohammed Aboutawila, principal of the Flint Southwestern Community School, said he hopes to continue the partnership in the years to come.
“When you think about what we are preparing our academics for – we are preparing them for college and career,” Aboutawila said. “…Anything we can do to help improve the conditions of our community, we will do.”
The after-school program lasts eight weeks, so Lots is able to run about six sessions per school year, she said.
Lots keeps groups limited to ten students or less to ensure that each student receives individual attention.
The program has a 95% employment rate, Lots said. Each of the eight graduates has a job interview with an employer straight out of the program.
The students graduating on Tuesday were Autumn Hernandez, James Clark, Lawrence Radden II, Kristiya Smith, Trayona Jones Hughes, Wallace Sincere, Brian Baker, Jimeon Youngblood and Davarion Seals.
Each graduate received a gift card and diploma for completing the program. Interviews with local employers will begin next week.
The HYPE program began working with Flint-area students five years ago. He previously worked with Beecher Community Schools and Westwood Heights Schools before joining Flint Community Schools.
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