Macon County high school juniors and seniors, many of whom are fulfilling requirements for Bridge Builders Alabama, meet every other Thursday night at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church on Highway 81 between Notasulga and Tuskegee. Auburn University undergraduates work alongside them, as they develop skills related to life, work, and college. The program is funded in part by the Appalachian Regional Commission. AU students Beth Givens, Marian Royston, Kadedra Smith, and Judah Johnson serve as mentors.
Tonight we introduced students to the game Apples to Apples, a new game to many. The game is simple but very fun: One person draws a card with an adjective, adverb, or descriptive word such as graceful, insane, juicy, or cranky. The other players choose one of their cards that they think the player will choose that is the best comparison. For the word insane, for example, players might offer body surfing, leeches, hair transplants, Eleanor Roosevelt, or any other random person, place, or thing they might have among their cards. The game results in some good laughs, and it often reveals who among us is the most competitive.
After dinner and the game, we discussed career preferences, and Beth distributed a great interest inventory that she found online. Students rate how they might like 108 different work environments or work activities, and then they determine which of these categories align to their interests the most: artistic, conventional, enterprising, investigative, realistic, or social.
Porsche Holland, an Americorp/VISTA worker with Bridge Builders Alabama, joined our college students as group facilitators, and our high school students had a chance to hear how college students think their intended profession and college major aligns with the results of the career interest survey. Our students are interested in a variety of professions, including social work, nursing, forensic science, and journalism.
One of the ways in which we challenge our students to think about future is through writing, and we have eleven students essays on “The Future of Macon County” available for public review. Since we know the future depends on us, and because we want to help create a positive future, we will work with the AU Environmental Institute to design and build a number of benches that can be used to transform any space the students choose. At our next meeting, Ms. Kay Stone and Heather Hughes from EI will be with us to help us dream big on these benches.
Beth invited students to participate in a free, online ACT prep experience at www.number2.com. Students will enroll, sign Beth up as their coach, and then Beth will be able to track their progress. We haven’t figured out how many hours of documented practice will be enough to allow a student to participate in a very special event at the end of the semester—and we haven’t yet determined what that event might be—but we know that students who spend time preparing for the ACT will be rewarded with an experience worthy of the work. Nothing is free in life, we know, and although our work together doesn’t cost students money, it costs them their time, energy, and focus on the future.