Ready for the world

tporter@lsjournal.comMay 15, 2013 

  • 384 The number of students who graduated May 10 from Lee’s Summit High School, Kristen Glenn and Lauren Russell among them.

Confidentiality laws won’t allow Kristen Glenn or Lauren Russell to disclose any of the inside information they have gleamed as part-time employee’s inside the attendance office at Lee’s Summit High School.

Between the two recently-graduated seniors, the stories are countless, the laughable moments etched in their collective psyches.

It can be mind-boggling what some high school students will do to skip school or skirt a class. Glenn and Russell, longtime friends, have seen some silly antics in their one and only year inside the office, but rest assured they both will leave Lee’s Summit High better off after their real-world experience.

“It’s different; I like it,” Russell said with a playful smile May 9, the last day of school for seniors at LSHS and a day before graduation. “It’s fun being in charge of (fellow students).”

The following day Glenn added: “It’s been so fun. Like, I would have not gone through senior year if I did not work in here. At first it was overwhelming and I didn’t really know if I was going to pick it up, but now it’s like second nature. It’s so easy.”

The two were among nearly a dozen students participating in LSHS’s supervised business experience program. As part of the program students gain valuable job skills, work in a professional office environment and most importantly – at least to some – get paid while they learn on the job and earn graduation credits as well.

The state-wide program has been in effect in the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District since the 1990s and both students were adamant about the fact that participating in the program has worked wonders for their confidence.

“Before I did this,” Russell said, “I felt like I couldn’t communicate – I can communicate well, but with adults, I was kind of nervous sometimes. This helped me a lot. I just noticed that out everyday, doing stuff like talking to people, I feel like this has helped me a lot with that.”

“It’s going to sound kind of dumb, but I used to have a fear of talking to adults on the phone,” Glenn added. “I would never talk to adults on the phone – ever. Now, I’m so comfortable with anything.”

Work inside the attendance office is quite often fast-paced. The job requires responsibility, confidentiality and high-quality phone and inter-personal skills. Both Glenn and Russell were often the primary contact for many parents who called or visited the school about attendance issues, said John Faulkenberry, principal at Lee’s Summit High School.

“Our attendance office is one of the busiest places on campus, as you might imagine in a high school,” he said. “You have to have kids that can take instruction, can act quickly; they have to be professional each minute that they are in there. I call them one of the faces of the school.

“They probably take more phone calls from parents and have more interactions with parents than anybody else. To entrust that with students you need kids that are willing to have that professional behavior.”

Sybil Dixon, who has worked in the attendance office at Lee’s Summit High since 2009, offered praise for the work ethic of Glenn and Russell.

“I love the program,” Dixon said. “It really does give them some experience; learning on-the-job training while they’re in high school. It’s like a taste of life after high school while you’re in high school. The program is an excellent program.

“This office is one of the busiest offices because you deal with the parents and people coming up constantly. It really is good training for (Glenn and Russell). I’m going to miss them both, dearly.”

Russell, a dancer with the Heart of America competitive dance team, will attend the University of Arkansas in the fall, while Glenn – a tennis team member while at LSHS and a member of the National Honor Society and the school’s yearbook staff – will head off to Provo, Utah later this summer to begin her college education at Brigham Young University.

A communications major is in the works for Russell; Glenn plans to study nutrition and dietetics. They, like most of the 384 students who graduated Lee’s Summit High this year, will leave soon for greener pastures.

The lasting impact of this past year will be far-reaching as the friend duo steps into the next phrase. Judging by their refusal to name the most outlandish attendance violators or relay anecdotal stories, Glenn and Russell have the real world definition of confidentiality down to a science.

“It’s kind of funny because we are not allowed to talk to people because it is all confidential,” Russell said. “But because we all know what’s going on, we kind of like to talk about the funny phone calls we’ve gotten and stuff. Anything is funny in this office.”

Said Glenn, who offered up what little dirt she could disclose: “One time, this kid – I don’t know why he was doing this – he’s kind of one of those kids that checks in and out. He really even doesn’t check in and out that much but he always comes by and talk to us; sometimes he talks too much. He’s funny or whatever.

“Sybil had step out of the office for a second and the kid came up to the office and noticed she was gone…and he climbed through the window. I was like, ‘get out of here, you can’t be in here.’ Oh my gosh, I was like ‘go to class now.’ That was the funniest thing that happened this year.”

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