Freshman Focus program helps prepare HHS students for future success

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA – Freshman students at Helena High School already have a leg up when it comes to career preparedness, resume writing, mock interviews and more thanks to a program called Freshman Focus as part of the school’s Career Tech Department.

Freshman students filed into the HHS media center throughout the day on Thursday, Dec. 5, dressed in their best professional attire as they met with a number of different business professionals to show off their electronic portfolio.

Business Education teacher Clif Naron helped organize they Freshman Focus event where his students created their electronic portfolio over the course of nine weeks.

“They have a resume they’ve created, they’ve created a four-year plan of classes they need to take, so if they think they want to have a professional degree where they need a strong college and they need AP classes then they put that down,” Naron said. “It’s a cool project that bookends our senior interviews. This is one end as a freshman where they come in, sit down and they walk through the website they’ve created and also have a mock interview.”

It is a requirement for all students taking Career Preparedness to participate in the Freshman Focus as the overall goal of Freshman Focus is to give students the opportunity to practice presentation and interview skills.

The electronic portfolio students created consisted of an about me section, an academic plan, interest assessment results, career research, a resume and a bucket list. The portfolio counts as 75 percent of the student’s grade.

Freshman Tanner James participated in the Freshman Focus program and discussed how much it helped his confidence by getting in front of interviewers.

“I think this is good because this can be a huge confidence booster,” James said. “People get out here and they’re nervous or they think they will mess up but then you start talking to these people like it’s a real interview and you realize that these people just want to know about you and they’re not here to pick you apart. It’s good for people to talk about themselves and realize that I can go somewhere, I can work hard and be something.”

As part of the mock interviews, business professionals gave their best advice to the freshman while also reviewing their portfolios. James said he received some great advice during his interview.

“I interviewed with Lisa Adams and when I started to talk I started to say ‘I don’t want to brag’ when talking about myself,” James said. “She told me ‘no that’s perfectly OK because job interviewers want to hear you brag on yourself because if you aren’t confident in yourself then how can the job interviewers be’ so she just encouraged me to be confident in myself.”

Freshman Focus was sponsored by the city of Helena, Jack’s, the Helena Business Association, The Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, Publix and Shelby County Schools.