A variety of vocational opportunities are available to students based on interest and ability level. The programs allow students to sample real world experiences, which provide students with job skills, which may lead to future employment. Through experiences in the vocational programs, students learn responsibility and the value of a dedicated work ethic. They develop functional skills, which will assist them as they prepare for graduation and entry into supported employment or the competitive job market.
The Buildings and Grounds Program provides experiences in custodial maintenance and buildings & grounds maintenance. Students provide lawn and tree/shrub maintenance at all district schools. They rake leaves, trim bushes/trees and cut the grass. Students perform building maintenance duties such as; furniture moving,repair and assembly, and any task a custodial/maintenance person may perform. An emphasis is placed on personal and workplace safety.
The Computers and Technology Program gives an introduction to various software applications. Students can be introduced to a wide array of typical software applications in the word processing, spreadsheet, database and presentation realms. Students may learn about desktop publishing, basic programming, and multimedia design. Students are involved in creating the school newspaper, publishing the annual yearbook and producing films and video projects.
The Food Services Program operates a functional kitchen. The students run the Hard Hat Café in which they plan and prepare buffets, sit down meals, and fast food service for other students in the building. It also provides a CBI experience for students in other schools in the district. The food service program prepares a monthly birthday party for students and staff. They make snacks for Board meetings and special district events throughout the school year.
As an elective, the Industrial Arts Class allows the students to use power and hand tools to create wooden items from patterns for their personal use and/or promotion in our dollar store, seasonal sales, or craft shows. The students learn about various construction methods/materials and how they can apply them in their daily lives. Again, an emphasis is placed on personal safety.
The Office Skills Program develops student skills in computer basics and keyboarding by providing an introduction to keyboarding, word processing, clerical skills, business communications, and office procedures. Students perform simulated office tasks in a business environment. They have opportunities to provide clerical assistance to the various offices throughout the district as well as finishing real world projects that are brought into the district for completion.
Mercer High School’s Retail Marketing Program runs a fully operational convenience store, Chuck’s Place. Instruction in Chuck’s Place is offered as an elective or as a whole class, special subject. Students are closely supervised as they learn to use the cash register to ring up purchases and make change. They interact with customers, learning social skills as they wait on student and adult customers. The youngsters stock shelves, prepare and deliver meals, and perform all activities related to running a convenience store.
The School Store is coordinated by the OT department and run in conjunction with our school wide behavior incentive program. Students are rewarded for following our school rules by receiving points throughout the day. They are given the opportunity to shop in our school store and “purchase” items with their points. The store is run by the students. They take inventory, shop at local dollar stores and grocery stores for merchandise, stock the shelves, and wait on the student customers. Younger students from the other district schools are also allowed to shop for items at the store.
Through Transition Services community partnerships have been established that provide realistic, relevant work-related experiences for our students that dovetail with our vocational skills training classes. A result of these efforts is that graduates who were enrolled in our Buildings & Grounds class are now employed in area establishments as porters or maintenance staff, students who successfully completed our Marketing, Sales, and Service Program are now successfully employed in area convenience and retail stores, Food Service students are working in area hotels and restaurants as chef assistants and banquet cutting station attendants.