Get Paid to Leave School

Staff Writer: Mayson Cambron

It is no secret that countless students are tired of the long school days, the overwhelming amount of homework, and the lack of “free” time between class, work and extracurriculars. There is some good news though! Woodstock High School offers a program called Work-Based Learning that many students take full advantage of their last two years of high school.

Work-Based Learning (WBL) allows for students to take one, two or three periods off and earn credits by working at their jobs. These jobs range anywhere from working ASP at the local elementary schools, internships at Northside Hospital, to working at Chick-fil-A. According to the Cherokee County School District website, “CCSD’s program currently can place 40 students at Northside Hospital Cherokee and 20 at Pinnacle.” While these spots are limited, there are countless other job opportunities for students to take advantage of for WBL.

hopsital internship

Cherokee County WBL students at the Northside Cherokee Hospital for their internship. Photo courtesy of Cherokee County School District Website

Students will have varying schedules depending on which job they will be working. Before school starts, counselors will meet with their WBL students to sort out their schedules, making sure WBL periods will fit either at the beginning or end of the day, as well as that students are on track for graduation.

Typically, students will work after-school jobs, allowing for them to have their lunch right before WBL periods. Students can take up to three periods WBL depending on when their required courses are available. Their pass to leave campus can be used at the start of their work release periods or during their lunch.

Although this isn’t a normal classroom setting, there are still assignments that students are required to complete. Once a month, students must turn in an hour log to make sure they are working enough each week to earn their credits. For every period taken off, five hours of work a week are required for credit. Naturally this number is flexible if students are sick or absent.

Unlike other electives where students can just sign up, anyone interested in WBL must fill out an application for the program. This application asks students about the kind of job they plan on using for WBL, their future plans and goals, how many periods they want off, and gets all of their information so that she can check grades and attendance. Students must have appropriate grades in order to demonstrate an ability to manage both school and a job, as well as have good attendance so that Ms. Birchmore can know they will be punctual for their job. After all, WBL students represent Woodstock High School when they are at work.

This elective is only open to juniors and seniors; however, the junior year work-load is typically heavy, so they are discouraged from participating. Seniors are best suited for this program because at this point they will have taken most of the courses that are required to graduate which allows them the flexibility of having a few periods off.

All of the perks that come from WBL must be taken with a grain of salt. Leaving school early to go and make money while earning credit is great, but in order to earn all credits students must still pass this “class” which means completing the hour logs and journal entries. There are very few assignments, which means each one has a large effect on class average, and since there is no classroom setting, these assignments are easy to forget. Students must be responsible enough to take ownership and responsibility in remembering to do the work.

The monthly assignments are submitted as “Journal Entries” and graded by the WBL Coordinator, Ms. Birchmore. Ms. Birchmore asks students to answer questions and discuss various experiences at work in detail. This helps students connect their work experience to their future goals, work on improving employability, as well as money and time management.

Senior Bailey Frush is a WBL student and works at the Woodstock Dwarf House. Frush shared, “I love WBL because it is super easy, you get to leave school early, and you go to work to get payed. But it also prepares you for your life after you finish school by teaching you to manage your time.”


WBL student Bailey Frush ringing in an order for her table at the Woodstock Dwarf House. Photo courtesy of Abi Harden

Earning her WBL credits through the internship at Northside Cherokee Hospital, senior Katie Gilliam shared “having this exposure allowed me to see what a hospital setting was truly like.” Gilliam plans to be an Occupational Therapist.


Katie Gilliam in her white coat for the Northside Cherokee Hospital Internship. Photo courtesy of Casey Gilliam

For the senior who doesn’t want to be at school all day or have tons of classwork, Work-Based Learning is the way to go. Not only does it allow students to leave school early, but it allows for them to go work, gaining experience for life after high school. It also allows for students to gain a better understanding of how a business works, how to cope with people, and how to manage money. Work-Based Learning is the best remedy for Senioritis.

Ms. Birchmore

WBL Coordinator, Ms. Birchmore. Photo courtesy of Mayson Cambron

Birchmore feels that students should get involved with WBL “to learn about yourself and about what you like or don’t like in a job before committing tons of resources to a career that may not best fit you.”

It’s never too early to start preparing for life after high school. Any students interested in WBL for their junior or senior years should see Ms. Birchmore in her office by the cafeteria or sit down and ask their guidance counselor about the program.

WBL Office

WBL Office next to cafeteria. Photo courtesy of Mayson Cambron

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