"It wakes you up as to what these kids face these days," he said. "I signed on for the first semester, and it was such a rewarding experience I did it again the second semester. I'm pretty sure I'll do it again, too."
Author Denmon, a student at Bate who paired with Jim Kirk of Kirk Interactive, said the program was a big benefit to the students.
"I learned a lot from my mentor about how the business world works," he said. "We got to learn a lot of stuff you don't get in school, like stuff about colleges and work. It was a pretty good thing for us."
Mentors and students received appreciation awards at the final meeting Wednesday - after a couple of hours of softball and food.
"This was just a small way of showing our mentors how much we appreciated what they did for us," said Hamlin, who worked with afterschool coordinators Lynn Guthrie at Bate and Rebecca Ryland-Davis at Boyle Middle.
The initial premise was for the mentors to work with new students the second semester, but the response by the first-semester students was so good, Guthrie said, it was decided to allow the same group to participate the full year.
"They got so much out of it," she said. "The students loved the practical learning experience, and the mentors were so enthusiastic. We're already making plans for next year."
Eighth-graders will be involved
Next year, Hamlin said, the program will again involve eighth-graders at the two middle schools, but the students who participated this year will be involved again as high school freshmen.
"For that, we need more mentors, especially from the large businesses and industries in our area," she said. "Our original plan was to have the mentor work with the student one-on-one, but we quickly found out it worked better if there were two students with each mentor. But to grow the program, we need to get more adults involved."
Chamber executive director Paula Fowler Kilby said the program is one way the Chamber can establish a working relationship between professionals and the community.
"This is a program that can reap great benefits for both the business community and the people who may one day become the business community," she said. "We're hoping that we can eventually establish a database of our chamber mentors who would be available when students ask for information about certain careers."
Business professionals who are interested in becoming a mentor for next year's program may contact Hamlin at Stith Funeral Home or Kilby at the Chamber.
The mentors who participated
The mentors who participated this year include:
Amsler, SDK Promotional Products; Kevin Arnold, Farmers National Bank; Hamlin, Stith Funeral Home; Curtis Hannah, Mary Kay; Kirk, Kirk Interactive; Tom Tye, Edward Jones Investment; Ron Barbato, Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center; Brad Underwood, Mass Mutual; Don Carney, retired; Esmeralda Cooper, Patrick Cooper Painting and Whitetail Springs Retreat; Valerie McMann, Messer McMann Investment Center; Jenny Kate Pass, Guerrant Real Estate; John Albright, Caldwell Stone; Melanie Ansorge, Danville schools; Judy Bernard, Simply Scrappin; David Cleveland, Nash, Cleveland and Godfrey; Jeannette Davis, 10th Planet; Callie Garrison, Danville Family Chiropractic; Marty Gibson, Farmers National Bank; Ben Guerrant, Guerrant Real Estate; Nina Kirkland, Coldwell Banker VIP Realty; Tim LeDonne, Kentucky State government; Lynne McMaine, Heartland Veterinary Clinic; Brian Watts, Kirk Interactive; Robert Wilson, Weldquip; and Don Vizi, Danville Convention Center.
Students from Bate Middle School who participated include:
Simone Ellery, Andresea Lofton, Amanda Litch, Tara Aranda, Gabby Godman, Marchelle Wilkerson, Tabitha Burdette, Andrea Payne, Ikia Daughtery, Chris Simpson, Author Denmon, Regina Harris and Riona Watson.
Students from Boyle Middle School who participated include: Carl Michael, Kesha Reed, Ryan Blevins, Marcus Blue, Dustin Pike, Kaylie Shetrone, Kyle Chester, Matthew Thomas, Rachelle King, Katrina King, Baylee Pulliam and Amanda Sivis.