Balancing work and homework

Senior Donamar Henry cashes out customers during her shift at Stop and Shop in Vineyard Haven. —Elizabeth Dourian

By Henry Hitchings

It is common for Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) students to work during the summer, profiting off the bounty of jobs tourism creates. There are a few students, however, who also work during the school year.

Senior Cana Courtney has worked at The Rainbow Place Preschool for six years, the first three of which were unpaid. “I think my official title is assistant teacher,” she said. “We play with the kids and help teach them as well, to prepare them for kindergarten.”

Students work for various reasons—some so that they can save for college, others to gain experience or fill time after school in place of clubs or sports.

Sophomore Renaldo Dos Santos works as a cashier at Cronig’s every day after school until eight o’clock. He said, “After I found out I wasn’t allowed to play sports due to a concussion for the rest of the year, I decided to get a job to occupy my time.”

Sophomore Colin Henke works as a lifeguard at the YMCA. He said, “I like being around and meeting new people, and the Y offers a really nice environment to work in.”

After work, students still have homework and they have to stay up late to complete it.

“Unfortunately, I often have to turn in homework late,” said Renaldo.

“Working definitely makes me have to stay up later, but I usually manage to get the work done on time,” Cana said.

English teacher Mr. McCarthy has had many students who work during the school year. “I’ve seen students who work too much and end up not having enough time for school, but I also have seen the other side of it where working has enhanced students’ grades,” he said.

At certain jobs, the students are able to do their homework while working, instead of having to fit it in after they get off work.

Senior Tessa Whitaker is a membership desk representative at the YMCA, and she has worked there for three years. She said, “I am sometimes able to do my homework due to the fact that it is a desk job, and I work on a computer.”

While working during the school year can create obstacles for students, it also provides them with skills and experience they will need later on in life. Cana’s job, for example, gives her hands-on experience in a field she is interested in going into.

“The fact that I was able to get experience in a field I want to go into as a career was really beneficial during the college application process,” she said. Cana wants to major in education next year at college and possibly pursue a career focusing on kids with special needs.

Renaldo said, “Despite having to stay up late to do homework, I still think that working is worth it, because it offers certain life experiences that school cannot.”