Boyle High friends work, play together

September 27, 2004|HERB BROCK

Editor’s note: This is the second story in a four-part series about local teenagers who go to school and work. Tuesday: A look at child labor laws and how they apply to high school students who work.

Teenagers have a lot of places where they hang out after school. Fast-food restaurants, movie theaters, video stores, parking lots and each other's houses are among the favorites.

But there is a group of teens in Danville that has chosen a fairly unique spot for their after-school hangout locale - a discount store. Well, it's a place where they do a lot more chores than chatting, but, to them, it's also a place where they can be together - and get paid for it.

A half dozen seniors, plus a couple of recent graduates, from Boyle County High School are employees at the Kmart store in Danville. To hear them tell it, they didn't all get together and take a vote on where they wanted to work. Their ending up on the Kmart payroll was more by accident than plan.


Two of the sextet of Boyle kids who now work as well as play together told the group's story.

"It was purely coincidental," said Chris Cloud, a Boyle senior. "It just so happened that we all were looking for after-school jobs and we all happened to apply to Kmart and get hired."

"Yeah, it's kind of funny how we all ended up at the same store," said Jimmy Reffitt, also a Boyle senior. "Our first responsibility is to do our jobs the best we can, but we do have fun, being around each other.

"And even though we do have fun, we do our jobs. We keep this place up," Reffitt said with a laugh.

Both Reffitt and Cloud are cashiers and make about the same wage, a little more than $6 an hour. They also both use their paychecks primarily to pay for expenses associated with their vehicles and other incidentals.

"I just filled up my pickup truck. It cost $50," said Cloud, who works 20 hours a week.

Said Reffitt, who puts in 27 hours a week: "It's a good job and I really like working here but we're not here to become wealthy. We're working here to earn money to pay for our cars and other things you need to have as a teenager."

Cloud agreed that his job will not be the first step toward a career in retail merchandising. He's going to the University of Kentucky next fall and major in computer engineering or business. Cloud, who began his Kmart job in August, said he so far has been able to manage his time well enough to handle his homework and maintain good grades.

"The job is not something I'm going to do as an adult, like for a career, but you get pretty good pay, and you also get to work with friends and a lot of other people your own age," he said.

Some young employees go to other schools

Yes, not every young employee at Kmart is in the little club of Boyle buddies. Other area high schools are represented, including Mercer County, where Whitney Parker is a senior.

Parker, who works at the customer service desk, has been employed at Kmart for a year and a half. She got the job so she could pay her car insurance. She puts in 20 to 30 hours a week over a period of five days.

"You learn to budget your time so you can do your homework," she said. "At times, it's hard to get everything done, like write a paper for class the next day. My grades are OK but they could be better. And I don't have time for any extracurricular school activities."

But the sacrifice is worth it to Parker.

"I'm learning the responsibilities of being in the workplace," she said. "I'm learning how to do a job, how to deal with superiors and co-workers, how to manage my time in order to handle my responsibilities at home and at school."

While Parker has no plans to make Kmart her workplace as an adult, it's possible she could return to the payroll one day, switching from the service desk to the pharmacy counter.

"I would like to go to college and take courses to become a pharmacist," she said.

But for now, she's content helping customers - and hanging with co-workers.

"The teenage workers here come from a lot of different area high schools, and the some of the kids already were friends when they were hired," she said. "But I think we're all friends now. At least we all have something in common we didn't have before - the same workplace."

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