Tuesday afternoon, Ambridge High School students and their guests celebrated the grand opening of the “lab,” a dedicated space at the school for providing students with hands-on work experience.
Guests also had the opportunity to visit the co-op room to learn more about the school’s recent partnership with PittMoss, an Ambridge-based company that manufactures an organic, recycled, natural cellulosic fiber replacement for peat moss. PittMoss is partnering with the high school to provide workforce training opportunities to students in the Life Skills program.
Special Education teacher Mrs. Teresa Brewer said three Ambridge students participate in a school-to-work program, spending their afternoons at PittMoss learning valuable employment skills from the production line. Additionally, students are able to work in the lab at the High School, building boxes, placing labels and thank you cards and packaging the PittMoss product in the boxes, and then sealing and labeling the boxes for shipping. Students also learn how to inventory supplies needed for each delivery of product, as well as the products they are exporting. To date, students have packaged 200, 10-quart bags of PittMoss.
Special Education teacher Mr. David Bobak said 15 students are participating in the co-op on site at the new lab. Students have the option of selecting from one of five tasks when in the lab:
Students will rotate in groups of five in the lab throughout the day. When in the lab, they will practice the procedures involves with their selected task. Each student has a work record that will be used to clock them in and out and keep track of which tasks they performed in the lab.
Following the grand opening of the lab, PittMoss General Manager, Mr. BJ Rankin, said he was pleased to be working with the school as part of the co-op program. He said the students who are participating on site have a great work ethic and he is pleased to be helping them to learn the skills needed to enter the workforce. Students who participate in a co-op with PittMoss or any other businesses in the region are paid by the Beaver County Job Training Center for their work. Representatives from the center were present at the event today.
Mr. Rankin presented the school with a check for $1,605. The money was raised through the generosity of local business and industry. He said he received a huge response from the community when he put out the call to donate to the co-op program. “The community really came together on this one. I had set a goal of raising $1,000 and was able to exceed it. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the school and we’re hoping to develop something even bigger in the future.”