The nonprofit Vance County Public School Foundation partnered this summer through the Vance-Henderson Chamber of Commerce with local businesses and Duke Energy to create internship for high school students. Businesses paid half the students' salaries and Duke Energy donated $3,000 to the foundation to provide the other half of the salaries.

Franklin Brothers Nursery, Golden Corral and Thompson Landscaping participated in the program.

Students were required to participate in the job application process, just as they would for any professional position, interviewing with the prospective employer. The businesses provided feedback to the students about their performance over the summer, evaluating their work and providing them with insight as to how they did in the workplace and areas in which they can grow.

The students selected to participate this summer were Hunter DeMent, who worked at Franklin Brothers Nursery; Georgia Cooley, who worked at Golden Corral; and Carlton Wilkins, who worked at Thompson Landscaping.

The students were paid $8 per hour through the summer work program.

“What we do is work out arrangements with local employers who are willing to sponsor a youth, give them a spot in their company where they would not only teach them the skills to perform the job but teach them work expectations and behaviors,” said Gina DeMent, who was one of the driving forces behind the program’s development and co-chairs the Vance-Henderson Chamber of Commerce Education Committee with Julia Langston. “The teens are coached about work etiquette before they begin their jobs. The employees must meet three focus areas: Show up to work on time, dress appropriately and perform their job satisfactorily.

“The program also takes some patience on the part of employers, who are required to teach employees who lack experience.”

This was the first year for the program, and organizers hope to expand it to more students in 2016.