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American Eagle Paper Mill to sponsor Challenge Program at TAHS

Representatives from The Challenge Program spoke with senior high students at Tyrone earlier this week.
Barbara Grandinetti, Executive Director, shared the story of how the program was started by Dan Perkins, after his experiences as a young boy, shining shoes in Johnstown to make money. The program began, serving one school which grew into 15 schools and eventually to 33 schools in two states this year.
Grandinetti told students that representatives would return in the spring to present monetary prizes of $250 to 12 students in four different categories.
A 10th, 11th and 12th grade student will be chosen for each category, including, community service, most improved, attendance and best overall GPA.
“This isn’t a scholarship,” said Grandinetti, “it’s your money to use.”
She also explained that in addition to the monetary prizes, five to 10 students will be invited to the Showcase of Congress. There, students will meet Congressmen, try out cutting edge technology and receive many free items.
Grandinetti announced that Tyrone’s business sponsor for the Challenge Program is the American Eagle Paper Mill.
Years ago, when it was announced that the Tyrone paper mill would be closing and many Tyrone residents would be out of work, one employee, John Ferner, made a choice to try to reopen the mill. With the help of several others, the team eventually got the mill up and running, after working for two years to purchase the facility.
Now approximately 30 percent of those individuals who had previously worked at the mill are back and about 60 percent of the employees are from the Tyrone area.
“It’s because of his generosity,” Grandinetti said, “that we’re able to bring this program to you.”
Kathy Holtzman, Community Outreach Specialist introduced Ferner to the students, thanking him for his support of the program.
“American Eagle Paper Mill is proud to sponsor the Challenge Program for you, the Tyrone Area High School,” said Ferner.
“We hope it helps you prepare for future endeavors,” he continued.
Ferner said those working to reopen the mill received a lot of community support, and they want to do whatever they can to give back to the community.
“The Tyrone School Board said they would help us however they could, now we’re trying to return some of what the school district gave to us,” said Ferner.
He explained the Challenge Program mirrors employment in many ways, such as how businesses reward their employees, through bonuses, raises or promotions.
Ferner also offered his advice to students regarding what employers are looking for in potential employees.
He said interviewers look at appearance, education, activities, community service and high school attendance records.
“Attendance is very important to businesses,” said Ferner, “If someone misses a lot of work, you have to fill that position, which usually means paying someone overtime.”
Ferner’s advice to the students was, “Never give up, and never give up on yourself because it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.”