Six recent high school graduates sign on to work at Caterpillar, Mauser

Published 9:49 pm Monday, June 10, 2019

On Monday, six recent high school graduates signed on to work for major industries in LaGrange as part of the School to Work program.

Kamren Stargill, Alyssa Conigliaro, Jamir Lenton and Ben Herring signed on to work at Caterpillar Inc. Marcus Nunn and Devin Morris signed on to work at Mauser Packaging Solutions. The School to Work program is part of a recent push to help students find jobs in local industries.

“It used to be a prideful thing that you graduated then you went to work, and for some reason, it became not that,” said Scott Malone from the City of the LaGrange Economic Development Office. “It should be, and we want to celebrate [these students]. You are starting a career in a great way and obviously with a great company that has been here a long time and will be very, very successful.”

Malone said the program is all about supporting students after graduation and making sure that they not only survive but thrive. 

“This is meaningful for our entire community, not just these four people,” said Nichelle Wimbush, TCSS coordinator of secondary education. “I pray that we’ll start a pipeline, where you can get people here, and they can see that this is good for them. It is good for our community. It is good for everyone involved.”

In order to help those students, the school system, local industry partners, and LaGrange’s economic development team had to work together.

“Personally, I think it has been something that I think needs to be done in our community for probably the last decade,” said Adam Worsley, plant manager at Mauser. “Internally, I’ve been trying to figure out how to help people to do that, especially the school system, and I know how important it is.”

Mauser Packaging Solutions Plant Manager Adam Worsley and Human Resources Manager Michael McSpadden look on as Marcus Nunn and Devin Morris sign on to work at Mauser on Friday. (Alicia B. Hill | Daily News)

Leaders at both Caterpillar and Mauser said that taking part in the School to Work program was a way to support the community, while finding good job candidates.

“Caterpillar for the last 21 plus years here has been very supportive of the community,” said Kristina Czerwinski, facility manager at Caterpillar Inc. “Nothing says community more than our children graduating from high school becoming adults in the workplace.”

Alyssa Conigliaro signs to work at Caterpillar on Monday as pat of the School to Work program. (Alicia B. Hill | Daily News)

Even with the support of the Troup County School System, the city and their new employers, it can be daunting for industry leaders to evaluate young applicants with limited job experience. However, managers at the companies said that they were pleasantly surprised by the recent graduates.

“There were several who blew us away with their interviews,” said Noah Zehr, group manager at Caterpillar Inc. “I think we got some very, very good interviews.”

Administrators from LaGrange and Troup high schools attended the signings, offering the support of the schools to their alumni, while thanking Caterpillar and Mauser for giving the graduates a chance.

“We feel like we do a pretty good job setting these guys up in good shape to go out into the workforce, but that bridge just hasn’t been there,” said Tyler Dunn, assistant principal at Troup County High School. “There has been a little bit of a disconnect from the school to work, and so this program being in place … bodes so well for our community as a whole.”

The graduates also received a challenge as they started their new jobs on Monday.

“You don’t realize it yet, but you are the first group to go through this program,” said Alton White, principal at LaGrange High School. “There are some businesses that are sitting back on the edge looking to see how things are going before they jump in. Your success is going to open the door for a ton of folks coming behind you.”