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Working Students: Employed and Educated.

The car pulls into the driveway at 12:30 in the morning. Now comes the challenging part; finding the energy to get into the house, finish homework and wake up in five hours to do it all again. But the eyes close and don’t open again until the morning.
The very first Assembly of the school year illustrated how important education is viewed. Students were told that being a student is their job and they need to focus on it, dress accordingly and follow the rules.
However, for some kids, being a student at South can be recognized as a second job. Studies have found that 18.2% of high school students are employed and working at least 20 hours a week, according to Child Trends Organization.
Ivy Rafuse, junior, is one of those kids. Working over 40 hours in the summer every week, and being a main closer at her job at Sonic, she’s finding the balance in working and school with some adjustments.
“I started working in the summer, and pretty soon I was working every night and closing ice cream. It was exhausting and I had to cut down my hours because my dad didn’t want me working that way in school,” she said.
Although currently only scheduling two to three days a week now, it still isn’t easy. Being a closer meant staying as long as she had to until she had everything cleaned, stocked and finished.
“You have to take apart the ice cream machines, the skeleton (nickname for the metal frame that contains all of the toppings), clean anything that fell out or got onto the counter, fill the machines, and make sure you have all of the backups and stocks. Sometimes I’ve had to stay until almost two in the morning to completely close it. It’s exhausting,” said Rafuse.
Adding homework and school on top of 40 hours of work can be stressful; sometimes students need to know when they’ve reached their limit.
“The first week of school I was still scheduled to work most days, and even though it’s the first week, we still got homework and I knew I couldn’t do it anymore because I would stay at work and then come home and be too exhausted to try to even start my homework,” said Rafuse.
Some kids are actually increasing their hours rather than decreasing them, which might seem hard to understand with the added weight of school.
Logan Braxton, junior, has recently increased his hours at Sonic rather than decreasing them, working six days a week as other people cut back their hours to make room for adjusting to school.
“Right now I just need a job. I have to get a new phone, and be able to have money for stuff I want,” Braxton said.
Teachers at South also notice when their students are working hard and Andrew Cantrell, social studies, thinks students should have a balance between the two.
“I think that it’s fine if you have to center yourself around work, I understand some kids have to in order to provide for themselves, but I think that there’s time to work later in life and kids should focus on being kids while they can,” said Cantrell. “I think that students shouldn’t have to prioritize themselves around their jobs and it’s unfortunate that some kids have to do that.”
There are many ups and downs to having a job, but being a student here at South is the priority for teens attending this year.

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