Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Junior Sh’Dai Forrester and freshman Miya Fields serve food in the cafeteria.

Pine Forge Academy Develops Student Work Ethic

Story by Tracey Jackson

The school day is over, but not for students who attend Allegheny East Conference's Pine Forge Academy (PFA). Junior Joseph Cheatham, a student supervisor for the gym custodians, has “learned to work hard and how to get a job done,” in the PFA Career Readiness Program.

This program that bustles in the afternoon and evening hours on the academy campus provides 115 of the 146 academy students the opportunity to work toward the payment of their own tuition. “It gives me a sense of pride to know that I am helping to pay for my Christian education,” says Emmalouise Jackson, a freshman who works in the school cafeteria. “Some things I’ve learned are how to clean an industrial-sized kitchen properly and how to work with a team to get our job finished in
time,” she shares.

Student labor is essential to the logistics of the PFA system. Training young people to value work by using their minds, spirit and hands has always allowed PFA to prepare their students for lives of self-sufficiency, excellence and service to their community.
As stated by Ellen White, “There should have been in connection with the schools, establishments for various branches of labor, that the students might have employment, and necessary exercise out of school hours” (Christian Education, p. 11).

Following this advice, students are employed in PFA’s food service, maintenance/janitorial, administrative offices, dormitories, Public Relations/Media departments and the Assist program.

In 2016 Southern Adventist University (Tenn.) awarded PFA a $35,000 Assist grant. Since that time, subsequent Assist grants have helped more than 50 students earn cash dollars toward their tuition. Assist promotes the development of long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between senior adult mentors and young people where all participants receive Christ’s blessings of service, growth and friendship.

Junior Irvin (Pax) Fordham states, “Working as the school’s videographer has provided me with opportunities to further my creative and video production skills. ... I feel this program is preparing me for future work environments.”

Senior Benjamin White, says, “I think receiving the Student Employee of the Year award my freshman year encouraged me to continue to do my best work so that now, in my senior year, I am one of the two student supervisors in the largest program department—the café.”

Cheatham adds, “I enjoy my job, and I believe that it is preparing me to work hard and is helping me build great leadership skills [that will enable me] to join the workforce in the future.”

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