Operation Creation students work in the kitchen at The Hilltopper Restaurant under the direction of Chef Hale. The group of local students is serving lunch Tuesday through Friday, July 11th-28th, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Hilltopper Restaurant. The menu includes a variety of soups, sandwiches, including the famous pulled pork with cider-maple barbecue sauce, salads and homemade bread. Student-made cutting boards will also be available for sale.
The Summer Youth Corp (Operation Creation) kicked off its fifth year on July 10th. The program is designed to teach job-related skills and simultaneously develop self-confidence and a sense of pride in their work that will help prepare students for the rigors of high school and eventual career success. Forty rising ninth graders from St. Johnsbury were accepted to take part in the three-week program based on an application, recommendations from teachers and an interview. The program is made possible by the generous support of the E.E. Ford and Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundations.
During the course of the program, each student spends a week in three areas of concentration: Woodworking and Communications, Culinary and Leadership, and Business and Community Service. As part of the Culinary and Leadership group, students run the Hilltopper Restaurant, which will be open to the public for lunch Tuesday through Friday, July 11th-28th, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, preparing food and serving customers. The Woodworking and Communications group manufactures cutting boards in the SJA woodshop, which will be sold at the Hilltopper during its lunchtime hours of operation. The Business and Community Service group takes a number of field trips to area businesses during which students learn about successful entrepreneurship and personal financial management. They also perform community service work in the St. Johnsbury Community Garden, St. Johnsbury Town Forest, and the town flower gardens.
Each day begins with breakfast and a group assembly similar to the Academy's morning Chapel. The day wraps up with an hour-long fitness component, which will include self-defense classes and yoga this year. All students participating in the program will receive a $100 weekly completion fee, $25 of which is required to be saved in a Youth CD. The students also compete for a cash prize of $100 in a logo design contest.
Dale Urie, director of the Operation Creation program, said, "These students are so driven to be successful that they have given up three weeks of their summer to have a seven-hour-a-day 'job'. They are continuing to develop lifelong work skills including financial literacy skills and social skills during this period of time. As in all jobs there will be times where they will need to work really hard, and there will be times that will be fun, but through it all they are gaining life skills. I feel privileged to work with these students, and the highly professional staff of the program."
Academy Headmaster Tom Lovett said, "When we launched this program, we hoped that it would inspire local young people to see themselves as positive members of their community with high aspirations and the skills to reach them. It did that and more. Already this year's group has shown enthusiasm, resourcefulness, and teamwork—all of which will lead to another successful year. They will, without a doubt, change each other, themselves, and their community for the better!"