Home Features The hustle and bustle: Abby DePaul conquers a busy schedule

The hustle and bustle: Abby DePaul conquers a busy schedule

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6 a.m. Time to wake up! Abby DePaul, like most other Oswego High School seniors, wakes up at  6 a.m. for school each day. She leaves school early to begin her work as an elementary school teacher aid at 1:30 p.m. through the Intercorrelated Cooperative Education (I.C.E.) program offered at OHS. She leaves that job at 4 pm., only to begin her next job as a dance instructor at 4:45. After she finishes her shift at 6 p.m., she takes dance classes from 7-9:30 p.m. She returns home at 10:15, does her homework, and then goes to bed at around 12:30 a.m. Every day. 

“I really enjoy working even though it is a lot of extra hours and a lot of work,” Abby, who works around 20 hours per week, says. 

Students who are a part of I.C.E. share the same balancing act between school and work each week. 

“They [have] an added responsibility on their plate,” Mr. Timothy Tiavani, the OHS I.C.E. teacher, says. “Generally, I think they are very responsible because they not only have to come to class and take care of what we’re doing in class….but they also have to have a certain number of hours—at least 15 hours a week—at their workplace.”

Having more responsibilities can often lead a student to experience more stress. They still receive a heavy stream of assignments for school, a loaded schedule that requires space for commute time, and for Abby, more work to complete outside of dance work hours. 

“She is more stressed, but she handles it well, and she has a pretty set schedule, so she is still able to get her schoolwork done and work at breaks,” Maddie DePaul, OHS sophomore and Abby’s sister, says.

This kind of stress can be seen in many high school students that have to juggle school with extracurriculars and work, but a solution can always be found for anxiety-inducing situations. For example, students can communicate with their teachers or boss to find a way to ease their stress and stick to their commitment. 

“I think working with students and being flexible is something that a lot of teachers do, and I appreciate that…because it relieves some stress,” Mr.Taviani says. 

For Abby, she has found her solution through time management and a positive mindset.  “I do think it has become easier because I understand my work is getting me money and it is allowing me to be able to do more things in the future, like go to college,” Abby says. 

Part of the bright side to having a job is the different life skills and experiences that can better prepare students for their future. School can teach subjects like math, science, and history, but a job can build on some other essential skills.

“A job definitely brings independence, work ethic, time management—so many different kinds of good life lessons,” Abby says.

While high school also introduces students to these skills because they are responsible for completing homework, studying for tests, and getting to school and class on time each day, having a job helps students build on these skills and earn money at the same time. Adjusting to having school and work is not always something that comes easily, but adapting and persevering are additional important skills that can be used in most facets of life.

“In the beginning, it may seem stressful trying to figure out hours and how that fits into the school day, and even though those stressors may come with any job, I think it’s totally worth it,” Abby says. “Not only are you getting work experience and expanding your resume, but you’re also able to earn money and really feel like an adult and a little more independent.”

With so many demands on her time, Abby really has to make her free time stretch as much as she can each day to ensure she gets everything done for work and school. The hustle and bustle each day leave little time for her to do other things that most high schoolers are able to do if they do not have a job.

“She can’t go out with friends or do other social activities that she’s invited to because she has to work,” Maddie DePaul says. “Then again, she has that social aspect at work…Still having mentors and friends that are her coworkers.”

Not only does Abby have to occasionally miss out on time with friends, but she also lacks time for herself.

“Because I am working and not necessarily resting and relaxing, I am a little tired in the morning—as I think a lot of people are,” Abby says. “I also think it’s good that I am out and about and not just sitting around because it tests my stamina, and I do feel more energized throughout the day.”

She may lose time for friends and relaxation, but she finds socializing and strength through work and school. By the same token, Abby is able to put her future into perspective and find her path.

“Going to the elementary school has helped me figure out my path because I am able to follow some classroom teachers and also follow speech pathologists and being able to witness what my future career would be like really helped solidify the decision before I went to college,” Abby says. 

For most, their first job does not pertain to the field they are interested in, but that is just a part of the experience. In addition, there are many things one could learn from having any job, no matter what field they are in, which is one reason why Mr. Taviani recommends students be a part of the ICE program. 

“This is not going to be [your] lifelong job in a lot of ways,” Mr.Taviani says. “So, what can you take out of this? Even though we are going to have some peaks and some valleys…take a look at this and really pull out the positives that you have learned from this program.” 

Abby plans to attend a four-year public university after she graduates from high school, and she wants to study speech pathology. To help prepare herself for her future, she is working hard in both work and school. In the meantime, she is maintaining a positive attitude and has found ways to combat stress, like doing homework when she gets work breaks and finding the value in lessons she has learned while working.

“Fulfill your responsibility; this is a learning environment, though,” Mr.Taviani says. “Mistakes are going to be made, and it is a matter of just working through those and not making the same mistakes over and over again.”

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