Holmen High School Holmen, WI

The “Vikings”

Photo of participating students at Holmen High School in Holmen WIWhat’s new with the Vikings?  Plenty since students with disabilities are much more active in their school!  The students are busy all the time now!  Students have had a variety of work experiences over the course of the Let’s Get to Work grant. In 2013 students participated in the Amazing Race to Employment, an activity that benefited the students by showing them a variety of jobs and raised awareness in the community about the idea that high school students with disabilities want to work and make great employees! Since then Holmen teachers have been very successful in broadening the opportunities for students – more types of businesses are offering paid and unpaid work experiences which mean more choices for the students.

Here’s what the students are up to….

Youa is attending Project Live, Holmen’s transition program that teaches independent living and job skills.  She works at Best Western 6 hours a week.  She has attended many Let’s Get to Work activities like the youth track at the Consortium meetings and presenting at conferences.  In February, she spoke to her state legislators about how working has improved her life and she shared her dreams to work with young children someday.

Jake is working at Schmidty’s restaurant bussing tables and dishes 3 afternoons per week.  His high school transition teachers found him the job, and he works independently using natural supports to help him to be a successful employee. Jake graduated early from Holmen High.

Taylor continues to work at Features in West Salem 3 times per week and has presented about her experience with the grant at several conferences including a Summit of over 100 teachers learning how to implement the best practices from Let’s Get to Work.

James continues to work at the American Family Insurance office where he now has his own desk.  James and his boss, Jason Lassen, starred in a video, which showcased the accommodations in the office that ensure that James is productive and successful at work. Check out James’ employment story! James has been busy outside of work, too. This Spring, he submitted his pottery to an art show sponsored by the independent living center.  

Alana will graduate at the end of this year, and she enjoys her unpaid work experience at TJ Maxx twice per week.  

Mai Houa food prep4 Mai Houa worked at Features Sports Bar and Grill in Holmen and is now looking for another job.  She is a senior this year and  plans to graduate with her class. During her participation in grant she also participated in a work experience at the YMCA day  care but she decided that was not what she wanted to do for a career.  

 Features Sports Bar and Grill has provided a work experience for numerous students from Holmen High over the years. Two  years ago the Governor visited the restaurant to recognize their best practice in hiring. Students working at Features in  Holmen also have hosted several state legislators as part of the Board for People with Developmental Disabilities Take Your  Legislator to Work campaign.

 Early in the grant, students traveled with two other Let’s Get to Work school sites, Manitowoc and New Auburn, to Washington,  D.C.  Students presented to legislators at the Capitol about the importance of working in real jobs for real pay.  Check out this  awesome video of the experience –http://youtu.be/A7ce9khDIYw.  

 In case you missed it, check out Holmen’s 30 second PSA that was made as part of its Continuous School Improvement Plan, which helps Holmen High School expand into the greater La Crosse area business community by using current business owners as their “voice.

Fellow Vikings, don’t forget to support your school with spirit chains and a nice beverage from the school coffee cart.  The Maroon Mug is led by students with and without disabilities.