When Cristo Rey Kansas City holds its summer business bootcamp for new high school students, the training goes well beyond learning the importance of a firm handshake and making eye contact when talking.
By ALLISON PRANG
The Kansas City Star
Indeed, the 141 incoming Cristo Rey students attending the training sessions this month at Park Universitys downtown campus have learned to use standard office technology such as Microsoft Word and Excel, email and Power Point. Theyve also been tutored in time management, customer service, public speaking and a host of other workplace skills.
Its all part of introducing the 116 freshman and 25 sophomore and junior transfer students to Cristo Reys innovative Corporate Work Study Program.
The program places students initially in entry-level clerical internships with more than 100 employers throughout the Kansas City area. Their wages go to the private school to cover tuition costs.
Students will wrap up their second week of training Friday. A third week of training later this month will be devoted to learning to use an iPad.
Ceci Cook, executive assistant to the vice president of operations at Olathe-based Garmin, was among the professionals who volunteered to train the Cristo Rey students. She taught them to use Microsofts Office software.
Last year, four students interned at the maker of satellite navigation products. That exposure to the interns persuaded Cook to volunteer.
Becky Summers, director of marketing and communications for Cristo Rey, at 211 W. Linwood Blvd., said all new students who enroll at the school must be 14 by Labor Day in order to comply with labor regulations. Each student works starting the Tuesday after Labor Day through May for a total of 50 work days, she said.
Cristo Rey Kansas City, which currently has 352 students, is one of 25 schools in the country that make up the Cristo Rey Network. All of the schools are modeled after the original Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago and are designed for students who demonstrate financial need and want to acquire professional work experience while still in school.
Each grade is assigned a different day of the week when students go to work instead of attending classes. Schedules are structured so students will not miss any instructional time while on the job.
Brendan Derickson, a Cristo Rey senior, works in a variety of entry-level positions at MedTrak Services, a prescription benefits company in Overland Park. Derickson said his goal is to one day enter the legal profession.
He said MedTraks staff takes time with you and cares about your success.
It really felt kind of like a community to me, he said.
Jose Lopez, another Cristo Rey senior, will start his third year working at ArtsTech in downtown Kansas City, where he helps troubleshoot computers. During his freshman year at Cristo Rey, he filed and sorted documents at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Lopez, who hopes to be the first member of his family to attend college, said he enrolled at Cristo Rey because he thought the work-study program would give him the best chance at higher education.
The Corporate Work Study program, according to Cristo Rey, functions as a temporary labor agency. Corporate sponsors sign a contract, agreeing to pay an average of $6,250 per school year, Summers said. The money covers 50 percent to 60 percent of every students tuition. Remaining tuition costs are covered by community donors, and each family also pays a portion, she said.
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