WESTPORT - Students in Adam Facteau's business communications class at Westport Central School are getting a chance to learn from the community that may eventually employ them.
The Westport Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Westport Central School to add real-world experience to high school business classes thanks to local business and community leaders.
"They know who the people are that are presenting, and it keeps them engaged in the conversation," Facteau said. "We had Bruce Ware in here talking about business presentations and I was concerned because it was on the Friday before vacation at 9 in the morning, but the kids were absolutely glues to what he was telling them."
Facteau said he and Westport Chamber of Commerce President Molly Kasriels of Normandie Beach Club had been talking about incorporating the local business community into the classroom, but it was Dawn Gay who got the ball moving.
"She was the one who said that we needed to sit down and get things rolling," Facteau said.
"I have always had the idea of working with the students and having a job fair for the students here in the back of my mind," Gay said. "There is a tremendous amount of talent in the school, and there are plenty of people in the community who are willing to help and also businesses that are looking for help. This is something that can tie the two together."
"I am surprised that it is going this well so quickly," Facteau said. "The conversations that the students are having with the presenters are just taking off, and they are excited to work on the job fair."
The idea began as a job-fair at the school for the students and the community to help connect local business with seasonal employees.
"We found that there were certain things that kids were missing in the job world and they happen to fall in line with what we need to teach in this class," Facteau said.
The goal of the program is to prepare the students for the workforce, connect them to businesses with openings, and give the students a competitive edge for future employment and college applications. Westport businesses are also offering internships through the program.
Presentations on topics ranging from cover letters and resumes to mock interviews and 21st century job skills, with the job fair scheduled for May 12.
"The students will help put on the fair," Facteau said.
"It's important for the businesses to reach out to the school and share this knowledge," Kasriels said. "It benefits the whole community. It raises everyone's expectations of themselves, and makes our students and our businesses better."
Students in the class include senior Rosemary Kelley and juniors Erika Estus, Jonathan Magoon, Ethan Markwica, Austin Martin, Dorie Souris, Alexander Steele and Ellexus Vaughn.