Senior Survival Skills students, teacher discuss what sets the class apart
By Emma Ovenhouse
2020 graduate Genesis Galvano learns how to change a tire. Photo Credit: Kellie Sweitzer
As students make their way through high school and begin thinking about their future, many find that they are underprepared and inexperienced when it comes to routine aspects of adult life. As a way to assist students with this transition into adulthood, Holt High School offers Senior Survival Skills as an elective class, where students learn the ins and outs of adult responsibilities such as career readiness, managing finances, and basic home skills.
Senior Survival Skills teacher Michaela Vestecka praised the class.
“The whole class is very beneficial for kids after high school. That’s kind of the whole purpose of it,” Vestecka said. We start by talking about college and career readiness. Everything from applying to college, getting student loans, resumes, cover letters, interviews, and all the etiquette that goes along with that.”
College and careers are not the only things taught in the class. Basic life and home skills are among the topics that are discussed in Senior Survival Skills, which was created during the 2018-2019 school year by Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Kellie Sweitzer.
Vestecka explained that within the class, students will be taught about “personal finances, housing and transportation, like how to obtain an apartment and car and things like that, as well as just basic skills around the home like laundry, cooking, etc.” Vestecka said.
Senior Daryl McCausey is among the students who took the class. He chose to take the class because it came as a much needed reality check in terms of adult life.
“I think it’s easily the most realistic class where you can apply everything you learn to your real life. I think everything they taught me would be helpful,” McCausey said.
Senior Kaseby McClure is another student who has benefited from Senior Survival Skills. She explained that while most high school classes teach us general things about life, they don’t get into personal skills like the Senior Survival Skills class does.
“There’s Econ and stuff, but you don’t learn how to personally work your own finances with a budget or housing in general,” McClure said.
This is a feeling that is shared by many high school students. Many feel that what is taught in high school is not going to be useful to them once they graduate. Senior Survival Skills has offered students a new set of skills to learn what many feel will really benefit them for life after high school. Vestecka also feels that the class is different from others based on the topics that are taught.
“Every single thing that we do in here is going to be useful to students after they take the class and after high school. There’s definitely a lot of classes in Holt that are also going to be useful, but I know that every single thing we talked about in here is going to be useful to students beyond high school and I think that’s what sets it apart,” Vestecka said.
Students have expressed that the class is run in a way where classmates are able to create relationships. The day to day of the class generally includes group work time and activities that allow students to make friendships. McCausey explained this is one of many aspects of the class that made it enjoyable.
“I felt like we were all learning stuff we enjoyed. We would do worksheets and stuff together, so it was really nice. I think it created a sense of community. It was a really tight knit class,” McCausey said.
Senior Survival Skills teaches students many essential skills that might not have been learned if they hadn’t taken the class. For this reason, students often have a favorite subject that they learned about that they feel most benefited them.
McCausey said his favorite thing to learn about was “definitely financial stuff. That and I enjoyed learning about it.”
Education on personal finances can be helpful for young adults. Many people are thrown into adult life after high school and are given a new found independence without knowing how to manage their money on their own. McClure had a similar favorite subject.
“[My favorite subject was] housing and learning how rent and everything comes into play, and how you’ll have different parts you’ll have to pay attention to,” McClure said.
Vestecka had a different answer, but one that is just as important for young adults entering life after high school. She explains that her favorite thing to teach in the class is home skills.
Vestecka said she enjoys teaching about “cooking and laundry and just things that I know every single student is going to be able to use …just those things that are a little bit more fun.”
2020 Graduate Jessica Nguyen learns hands on how to jumpstart a car while classmate Andrew Toupin watches in the background. Photo Credit: Kellie Sweitzer
Class of 2022 seniors show off their sewing skills. From left to right: Lucas Smith, Daryl McCausey, Emma Malloy, Alanna Garcia, Gabriella Baroni, Sophia Baker, Mia Bergethon. Photo Credit: Kellie Sweitzer