SPARTA TOWNSHIP, NJ – Middle schoolers from around Sussex County spent Saturday morning, Nov. 17, at Sussex Tech “trekking” through the labs to learn what they might like to study in high school.
The annual “Tech Trek” is a chance for the school to show off. It is staffed by faculty and volunteer students.
“There’s nothing in it for the kids," Vice Principal Stacy Crosson said, although the culinary students were treated to caramel popcorn with pecans after their stint in the kitchen.
Nevertheless, “kids volunteering their time on a Saturday shows pride in their school,” Crosson said.
She noted graduates of the school come back each year with their own kids.
Crosson herself is a graduate. She used her knowledge from the cosmetology program to work her way through college, “without flipping burgers.”
She came back to tech first as a substitute, then as a teacher, and now as an administrator.
The business management and administration department is designed for both students interested in going into business, and everyone else. “Everyone works in an office at one time or another,” teacher Tara West said, noting the program helps students navigate the workplace.
Students can earn college credits in the program as well, she said.
The class Saturday was learning how to run a lemonade stand. That is not as simple as it sounds, West said. The students have to learn how to order lemons, sugar, and other ingredients,. They almost must learn how much to order at one time without ordering too much, and having things spoil, or ordering too little and running out.
Danielle Weiss, a seventh grader from Ogdensburg, is interested in going into business, and was doing well at the lemonade stand program on her computer.
Other students attending the trek were “just exploring," including Emma Orabone, who was learning to French braid hair in the cosmetology lab.
Cosmetology teacher Brigitta Alonzo said she had eight sophomores and six juniors volunteering out of her 26 students. The other cosmetology section has 29 students, making it a popular program.
Some of the middle school children came from the Charter School of Technology, on the same campus as tech.
Arianne Dugas of Hopatcong, brought her son, Logan, a student at the charter school, because trek presents “a good opportunity to see the school.”
Logan was learning to solder from sophomore Brad Van Orden, who was also teaching Andrew Cerena of Sparta. The boys were making a “screaming turkey” for Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, in the culinary lab, students made candy apples dipped in chocolate, then caramel, and rolled in mini M&Ms. Because they learn presentation as well as cooking, they wrapped the apples in decorative packaging. The students learn catering and develop marketing skills as well.
Senior Chris Manzi of Hardyston plans on studying physical education and sports medicine in college, probably Montclair State. He is interested in become am athletic trainer. He figures on working at a restaurant in college as he has in high school.
Chris pointed out an advantage to high school at tech. “I got to know everybody here,” he said.
Crosson added, “This is a melting pot. No one has a pre-conceived notion when they get here. That precludes the normal high school cliques. All the students are here because they want to be."
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