Other stories filed under Features
The Ins and Outs of Work Study
February 16, 2015
An Interview with the man that does it ALL
I have been on work study for all four years at Skutt Catholic, just like many other students here, but fortunately I have been one of the lucky ones that got the chance to do almost every job you could think of. I have gotten to know many of my teachers and how they specifically like their rooms to be handled and cleaned to (almost) perfection. But the one person I never got the chance to really know of my four years is the guy that runs the after school work study crew, Baha. I recently sat down with him in an interview and spent time getting to know him. This is what he shared, and what I learned…
On hobbies… “Actually I don’t have enough time for my hobby, which is playing pool. I only have time on Sunday to play in my apartment. I have a pool table and I play with my brother and some friends. The type of pool is a Russian version, so it’s harder and there are different rules of the game. The second thing I do is go play bowling. Out of my hobbies that I like to do, this is my favorite. I couldn’t say that I am a professional bowler, but my favorite spot to bowl is the V.”
On the pet peeves of work study… “The lying. Students will say, ‘hey I got this room’, but when I’m checking the rooms every day after work study, I notice that they didn’t get that room. I don’t have a lot of time to go double check all the rooms, because I am the only person and am doing it alone. I just ask them twice, I trust them and say ‘hey are you sure you didn’t miss anything?’ They say yes, and after that I go check all the lights in all the rooms and I see the rooms and I see that they’re not done. What makes me crazy is them just leaving early. They are supposed to stay from 3:15 to 5:15 because they get a two hour credit, but they never stay two hours. Usually I let them go early because they are done and there is no more to do, but when they are not done and they are just doing half of the job and then saying they have to go, that’s the main problem. I don’t take it personally. I was a kid too, I used to go to school and sometimes I lied to my teachers. I am just trying to keep them in a line, to do the job. Because they get credit for that and the work study is the school trying to help them. I just want them to appreciate the school for that and have them do a good job.”
On our biggest problem: recycling… “The dumpster company charges the school if they are putting the wrong trash inside the recycling dumpster. A lot of people come to me and complain about the kids but it’s supposed to be during the classes that the teachers are supposed to tell the students to please don’t do it [throwing garbage into recycling cans and vice versa]. When the trash is already in the trash cans, I can’t do anything about it. At first, I didn’t pay attention on it. I was mixing the trash too. If they made announcements on recycling every day after school, maybe it’s going to help.”
On favorite food… “I would have to say my favorite food is my traditional country food, national food. I like pilaf, in our country they make it with different traditional things also with rice, carrots, fried meat, bean and just a little bit of fat, pilaf is my favorite and my second, I like to make by myself is shiskabob, I like to put on the sirloin meat and I know how to marinate that meat, and that’s the only food that I can make and do by myself, it’s hard to do it but I can do it.”
On favorite music… “I mean, it’s kind of weird, but I like my country’s music. I don’t listen very often but, the music from my country is different with a lot of instruments and they sing in a different way. For you it may be kind of weird and funny, but I like it. Sometimes I will try to find the newest music from my country on YouTube, and from the modern music I like every beat.”
On vacationing anywhere in the world… “Well, two years ago I was in Cancun, Mexico, that was the last time I was on vacation. But I am planning to go to the east coast and then to the west coast. Maybe this summer, I have friends that I go visit.”
On if one day he won the lottery… “I don’t know, actually my wife was asking me to buy a lottery ticket every time but I don’t really buy tickets. Sometimes she makes me buy them, but if I won, I don’t know, I have thought about this once before. For sure I know some percent would go to the nation, the other would go to investment, and maybe some to purchasing a house. A million dollar house isn’t for me, but you know a normal house where my kids can play at.”
The Culture of Work Study
“Baha’s coming! Baha’s coming!” The universal cry afternoons at Skutt Catholic is reminiscent of a young Paul Revere during the American Revolution, sending Work Study students to their jobs in the same way the minutemen got their guns. But the students’ weapons are an arsenal of vacuums, spray bottles, and different sized trash bags, and their job is to keep the school clean. The after-school cleaning crew consists students ranging from athletes to chess champions, meaning the culture is anything but typical.
But even within this diverse group, a sort of hierarchy exists between the seasoned veterans and the newbies who have to be trained in the art of keeping the school building just clean enough. This occurs mostly in Baha’s closet, where the vacuums are kept and fought over on a consistent basis. “My vacuum is number 19, because the upper numbers always work way better than the lower numbers,” sophomore Talina Bakhit said. “It is just plain rude when people take my vacuum at work study; I work hard for my hours and I deserve the best vacuum. Sometimes when new people take your vacuum you just gently whack them so they know that’s yours and they should find a different one. Or yelling. That works too.” Talina has trained many of the work study girls who come through the cleaning crew and has all-time dibs on vacuum number 19, except on Thursdays, when she’s excused from coming at all.
Each week of work brings new interesting experiences that become stories only the crew understands. There was the time Baha gave everyone triple hours, and then surprised us with three rooms of desks to move and new ones to bring in. Each new desk was individually wrapped and freezing cold so that by the time the girls finished pushing them from hallway to hallway everyone was complaining about the pain in their knees. “Well, work study kids aren’t the most motivated group, but Baha calls me buttercup, so we’re basically best friends,” said sophomore Keenan Baca. “Sometimes he gets irritated though, but he just wants us to do our jobs so we get annoyed; but honestly, deep down we all love him because he usually gives us the jobs we want and he’s pretty funny too.” The relationship between Baha and his unruly bunch of students is one of the cool things about Skutt Catholic’s work study program, especially because it produces the best inside jokes in the school. The most common jokes revolve around begging him to bring in free fries, and giving hours for doing absolutely no work. Other times, people run around attempting to hide so they won’t be given extra jobs, only to be summoned to the dreaded weight room, which is cleaned when it’s basically still full of people.
Despite the hierarchy, a sort of camaraderie has emerged between the students at work study. A common bonding experience is the pure joy when Baha announces you’ll be given double hours and then the moment you realize you have to do double work and everyone complains about hating their lives. People even rotate for the best jobs and help each other out when someone is having a rough time. When asked what the best job was, the female students gave one universal answer: windows, and the boys simply said trash was the easiest job. The worst jobs however included such tasks as washing the bathroom floors and helping Baha clean the weight room when it’s full of people. “Whenever I have a rough day, I just beg Baha to let me do windows and then I just basically use it like a therapy session with my friends,” said sophomore Abbi Wendt. So even though many people would rather go home after school, the students agree that doing Work Study is worth it to be able to go to Skutt Catholic, and it’s not always as boring as you might think.
More Than Vacuuming Floors
The complex system behind work study
One in Three. That is how many Skutt Catholic students participate in the work study program. The Financial Aid program draws students from more walks of life than any other group, club or sport at Skutt Catholic. And it’s thanks to generous donors that Skutt Catholic is able to offer it.
In order to qualify for the program in the fall, a family must apply through the Skutt Catholic website in the spring. If accepted, the family will be awarded a certain amount of financial aid, which must be earned at a rate of $10 per hour. For example, if a family is awarded $1000 in financial aid, their student(s) must complete 100 hours of work.
First, families complete and submit the financial aid application on the Skutt Catholic website.
The next part of the process is handled by an independent company called FACTS Grant & Aid Assessment Service. This company reviews the applications submitted by Skutt Catholic families and further evaluates their financial situation. “The company gives us an idea of how much money they think [a family] needs,” said Principal Rob Meyers.
According to the company’s website, “FACTS verifies expenses and household income to assist an institution in making an informed decision about the amount of financial aid needed for each family.”
Mr. McMahon, President of Skutt Catholic, further illuminated the process. “FACTS provides a report which lays out a family’s financial situation, and FACTS makes a recommendation to us based on the report.”
However, FACTS does not make the final decision. “We may take into consideration some factors that FACTS wouldn’t,” said McMahon.
There are a wide range of work study assignments at Skutt Catholic. Some students do maintenance work under various supervisors, but one of the most common supervisors is known as Baha. Baha’s students often clean the inside of the building, completing tasks like vacuuming and dusting.
Although he is in the building seemingly all hours of the day, Baha is not an employee of Skutt Catholic, according to Meyers. “He works for a company called Best Shine, and we contract with them for janitorial services from 2:30 P.M. on.”
The structure of the work study program at Skutt Catholic is very complex, but it is important. According to the Skutt Catholic website, “It is the belief of Skutt Catholic High School that all families who desire a Catholic education for their child should have that opportunity,” it reads. The work study program helps to accomplish that.
Work Study: Improving
Paying for school is no easy A. Regardless of their situation, students are united by this common struggle. Of course, there are a lucky few to receive a little extra help from the work study program at Skutt Catholic. However, work study is not as effective as we think it has the potential to be; that is why we at the Flightline would like to touch on a few concerns within our work study program. We feel the work study program needs renovations in processes for determining aid, dispensing payment, and creating jobs.
The Flightline feels that those who determine financial aid leave out a few things in determining who is selected for work study. On the financial aid application, they ask you to fill out information regarding your parents’ income. They also leave a small place to fill out extenuating circumstances, but we are not quite sure how much of that gets taken into account. Many parents might be making considerable money, and therefore they get denied financial aid, but have other things that drain their bank account. They might need renovations on their house, have medical expenses, or have other children’s educations to pay for. Therefore, we feel that there should be other things taken into account in determining financial aid.
Another improvement that could be made would be the money given to the kids in the work study program. The issue with dispensing payment is the amount of hours one has to work before they get their compensation. For those not involved in work study, it is set up so that every hour of work study one works, they receive roughly ten dollars of tuition compensation. And yet, not all students in the work study program is working equally, with some skating requirements and still receiving credit. We recommend that in order to fix the problem, Skutt Catholic makes sure everyone gets all their assigned hours done, and done right. It will make the whole program a little more equal.
We also feel the amount of opportunities that financial aid kids have to complete their work study is limited. There are people who don’t have an assigned work study job, so they have to sign up on their own. Then, by the time they check their schedules and get back to respond about the job, all volunteering slots are full. How are these kids supposed to finish their allotted work when they never get an opportunity to get a job? We recommend that we increase the number of people on certain jobs, as well as providing other jobs to ensure everyone who needs one can get a position.
The Flightline ultimately believes that what our financial aid program does to help kids is extremely beneficial, foremost the work study program. Many of our students might not be able to afford this school without it, not to mention the great weight off of parents’ shoulders. But we also need to make the work study program as effective as possible, and the ideas outlined above are a start.