Getting a jump start on the future

By Dick Mason, The Observer December 16, 2013 12:07 pm

La Grande High School social studies teacher John Lamoreau recently opened his fourth-period class with a message both sobering and inspiring.

Lamoreau presented it after asking his students how many hoped to attend college. About 80 percent of the students raised their hands.

“Only about 30 percent of high school students nationally go on to get a college degree. I want you guys to beat the average,” Lamoreau said.

Welcome to Success 101, a new class for LHS freshmen, which is helping students get a jump start, not only on getting prepared for college, if that is what they aspire to, but preparing for their futures in general.

The 18-week class, which all freshmen are required to take during their first semester in high school, focuses on getting students to begin thinking about their goals and how they can attain them. Success 101 classes are being taught by Lamoreau, Aislinn Becktold and Brittany Miner. 

A big part of the class involves setting up a 10-year life plan. Students are required to write about where they want to be and what they want to be doing 10 years from now and then describe how they intend to reach their objective.

“They need to determine what type of salary they would need to support that lifestyle,” Lamoreau said.

The process is proving to be an eye opening one for students because they are discovering what type of financial resources they need to have to support the lifestyle they desire. In many cases, the freshmen are beginning to understand they will not enjoy the lifestyle they want unless they go to college or receive specialized training at a trade school. 

“(The class) has made me realize the importance of getting a good job,’’ said LHS student Kaitlyn Henry.

Success 101 teachers emphasize the importance of working hard in school now because success in high school opens doors to college and career paths.

“The decisions students make now will have a significant impact on their future,” Becktold said. 

Lamoreau wants to show students they have the time needed to put in the work to prepare themselves to achieve their life objectives. To do this he is having students document how much time they spend on Facebook, watching videos and playing electronic games. He said this is revealing to students that they spend more time on recreational pursuits than they realize. 

“I’m asking, ‘What could they accomplish if they cut this time in half?’” Lamoreau said.

Students in Success 101 classes are also learning about the value of the dollar and what it takes to live on your own. 

“One student told me ‘Before I took the class I wanted to move out right away. Now I want to stay at home as long as I can,’” Lamoreau said.

Freshman Camryne Sandoval is one student impressed with the cost of living message. 

“I didn’t realize how expensive everything is,” Sandoval said. 

Becktold said the financial portion of the class is making it easier for students to understand the challenges their parents face financially.

“They realize that their parents do not have it easy. They sympathize with adults in a way they hadn’t before,” said Becktold, an English teacher.

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