St. Johnsbury Academy's Operation Creation will kick off its seventh year on July 8th. The program is designed to teach rising ninth graders job-related skills and at the same time develop self-confidence and a sense of pride in their work that will help them prepare for the rigors of high school. Forty students from the St. Johnsbury area were accepted to take part in the three-week program based on an application, recommendations from teachers and an interview.
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 9th-26th, 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, $50 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. This year's group will, without a doubt, change each other, themselves, and their community for the better!"
Operation Creation would not be possible without the support of community businesses. This year, Downs Rachlin and Martin PLLC, The National Guard, StJ Auto, Kingdom Taproom and Table, Passumpsic Savings Bank, and Union Bank are the title sponsors, and Dead River Company, Lyndon Furniture, Valhalla Corp. and Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital are major sponsors of the program. Other supporters include Celtic Marketing Food Brokers, CCR Sports Inc., NSA Industries, LLC, Poulos Insurance, Weidman Electrical Technology, Fairbanks Scales, St. Johnsbury House of Pizza, Richard Kozlowski DDT, Sayles Funeral Home, Dan Wyand, PT and Associates, Caplan's Army Store, St. Johnsbury Animal Hospital, Zuccaro & Willis, P.C., Shippee Family Eye Care, Quest Transport, Kinney Pike, Harold's Concrete Construction, Begin Realty Associates, and James McFaul, P.C. The program is underwritten by the generous support of the E.E. Ford and Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundations.