Working hard for the summer

Published 1:20 am Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Some high school students have traded their books for weedeaters, life-saving buoys and paint brushes as they spend the months between May and August working at summer jobs.

Dwight Mikel, director of the city of Andalusia’s department of leisure services, said the city is currently employing roughly 25 high school students.

“Most of those are with the department of leisure services and (job duties) range from swimming instructors to lifeguards to park maintenance workers and library aides assisting with administrative duties,” he said.

The practice of using student labor is two-fold – students gain valuable work experience in the work while providing a valuable assets to their employers.

“For us to some extent, it’s an employee pool for down the line,” Mikel said. “Every child is not going to leave high school and go to college and become a doctor. There’s a lot who would really rather work in a more physical area, and we’ve got some through the years that we’ve hired on a permanent basis who were summer employees with us one time or another.

“It’s an opportunity for them to understand what we do and for us (an opportunity) to evaluate them on the service they provide,” he said.

For Anna Bay McCord, Susie Watson and Erin Byrd, the experience is an opportunity to hang out by the pool all summer – and get paid for it.

“This is my first year,” said McCord, who is employed as a city lifeguard. “I enjoy it. It gets hot out, but as long as you keep sunscreen on, it’s OK.”

Covington County Schools also are employing students this summer – 61, to be exact. Superintendent Terry Holley said duties range from general maintenance work, clean up duties and helping with summer school activities.

At Brooks True Value Hardware Store, third-generation summer employee Anthony Elmore was found manning the register counter Tuesday.

Elmore’s dad, Mark; his grandmother, Susan; and aunt Amy Plumb each worked summers at the store, owner Bob Brooks said.

For the youngest Elmore, an upcoming senior at Andalusia High School, the job is an exercise in responsibility.

“I bought a four-wheeler last summer and now I have to make payments on it,” he said as his reason for seeking summer employment. “Plus it beats sitting at home doing nothing, and it’s teaching me some responsibility.”

Susie Watson and Anna Bay McCord man the chair at Cooper Pool as part of their summer job duties. The two are employed as lifeguards with the city of Andalusia’s department of leisure services.