Brandon Sikes is a senior at South Effingham High School, even though he is only at the school for one class a day.
He goes to the school to take English and then leaves to go to work at Savannah Communications for a job for which he also receives class credit.
“I’m a radio service technician,” he said. “When someone brings in a radio or something from their job, it could be a cop or a firefighter, I repair it. Whatever it needs to have done to it — check it out and put it back in working condition.”
His schedule allows him to better understand and learn his job.
“It gives you the chance to get more of a work experience because we close at 4:30 (p.m.), so by the time I get out of school and get there I wouldn’t have time to do anything,” Sikes said. “It gives you a chance to mix the two together, and I think it keeps you on task.”
There are approximately 50 students taking part in work-based learning programs at SEHS, and about a dozen are youth apprentices. Sikes was sent to Las Vegas for a training session.
Angela Wood, career, technical, agricultural education supervisor at SEHS, said there are a number of good students in the youth apprenticeship program, but she did not expect to have a student come and ask to travel to a training session.
Wood found out the company would pay for Sikes to go and pay his expenses and also pay $1,000 for the training.
“That’s a lot that they’re investing in him,” she said. “He was so excited.”
Becky Truluck, the teacher who works with all work-based learning students, said Sikes is somewhat shy and was timid about asking his teacher if he could be absent from class.
“I said, ‘Brandon, have you asked your teacher?’ He said no,” Truluck said. “I said, ‘if you ask, she may just say that’s fine.’ I wasn’t going to ask for him. I really didn’t think he’d do it, and the next day he came to me and said, ‘I asked her.’ ‘What’d she say?’ ‘She said, “by all means please, yes, you need to be there. That’s helping your career, and you need to go. I’ll work with you.”’”
Truluck said Sikes’ boss made it clear that the trip would be about work.
“His boss was quick to tell me, ‘I don’t want you to think it’s going to be a lot of fun,’” she said. “It’s a very long day. There was very little down time. He said, ‘I can assure you he will be busy.’”
“After talking to other supervisors, you don’t have a lot of companies that are willing to do that on a teenager,” Truluck said. “Not only was it the training, it was the trip, it was the responsibility. That’s impressive to me, and it says a lot about what he was out there doing in his job. Obviously, he’s a very valued employee.”
Sikes said the training was about Motorola product lines and changes that will be occurring.
“It was a crazy city,” he said. “It was a really good learning experience. I got a lot out of it. It was pretty hectic.”
Sikes was in class from 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday. At night, he had dinner with Motorola representatives.
“It was quite an experience,” he said.
Wood said she was proud of Sikes not only for being asked to participate, but also for his dedication to his class during the process. He made it to his class at 8 a.m. and was on a plane to Las Vegas by lunchtime. He also came to class the morning after he returned on a late flight.
“We’ve had other success stories, but nothing like taking someone to Las Vegas for training, and the student just so excited about going to go to training,” Wood said. “Whenever Brandon talked to me about it he really never mentioned anything about the other things in Las Vegas. He’s like, ‘I’m going to be in training, Ms. Wood.’”
Wood said when Sikes brought the proposal, he only talked about the training and made sure to bring his itinerary and all the paperwork to present to the board of education.
“That says something about our board of education, that they’re supportive to allow students to expand on their opportunity like that,” she said. “They’re very supportive of our program.”
Truluck said Sikes’ employer speaks very highly of him.
“They have to have something in store for him,” she said.