Jobs for Maine’s Graduates has teamed up this summer with central Maine school districts, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Waterville, the Alfond Youth & Community Center and Thomas College to offer a variety of interactive and relevant learning opportunities.

The new initiative, RETREAT (Re-Engaging Through Recreation, Education And Technology), is aimed at helping students in the Waterville and Messalonskee school districts reconnect with school and gain valuable life skills in positive and enjoyable ways.

“Summer school has a reputation of students spending long hours sitting in a classroom,” said JMG President & CEO Craig Larrabee in a news release. “This has been a particularly stressful school year and we need to shake things up. More than ever before, we need to be student centered. We need to make sure we’re meeting their physical, academic and social-emotional needs, in a fun and nurturing environment.”

RETREAT started on July 12, and runs for three weeks through July 30. The initiative gives students the opportunity to explore careers, play sports, or take lessons in photography, art, and guitar. JMG Specialists and community partners will lead hands-on classes including classic car restoration, fly fishing, cooking, nutrition and outdoor survival. Students can also get a head start on their career path by earning CPR, lifeguarding, and childcare Counselor-in-Training credentials.

“I was engaged this past week with academics in the morning and RETREAT in the afternoon,” said Noah Stanphill, a Waterville High School ninth grader. “I participated in Outdoor Survival and Classic Car Restoration, and will do Fly Fishing next week. In Outdoor Survival we went on hikes and we learned a lot of new skills to take with us. Classic Car Restoration is all hands on, and we’re having a blast. My younger brother didn’t participate in the first week, and this week he got signed up.”

The activities are taking place at several locations across Central Maine including Waterville Senior High School, Messalonksee High School, the Alfond Youth and Community Center, Thomas College and Camp Tracy. Organizers have made sure every student will have transportation and meals.

“We believe these programs are great for helping teens develop work skills, identify resources at their disposal, and build confidence in their abilities in a fun environment,” said Patrick Guerette, the chief operating officer at the Alfond Youth and Community Center in Waterville. “It’s been a tough year on many of these students, and we are glad to see so many teens engaged in these opportunities.”

JMG is a statewide, private nonprofit working with students who face barriers to education. It provides more than 10,000 students a year with the skills and experience they will need to graduate from high school, attain post-secondary credentials, and pursue meaningful careers. JMG graduates become engaging members of their communities, productive adults in the workforce, and contributors to Maine’s economy. To learn more visit jmg.org.

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