Shine Bright! TCSS’s 12 Plus program parters with New Ventures

Published 9:30 am Saturday, August 12, 2023

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This year the Christmas lights traditionally seen on LaFayette Parkway and in downtown LaGrange will look a little different. The City of LaGrange recently partnered with New Ventures and the Troup County School System’s 12 Plus students to refurbish over 14,000 bulbs.

These students were able to learn about checking for electrical currents and bulb socket repair.

Mike Wilson, president of New Ventures, said 12 Plus is TCSS program students who have a disability and have gotten their diploma from one of the three high schools. Participants in the program are able to continue on in the program until their 22nd birthday.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to partner with the City of Lagrange in refurbishing the Christmas lights. I got with Meg Kelsey last year and said, ‘Hey, here’s an opportunity for us to partner on something’ and the city bought the new LED bulbs and New Ventures bought sockets and electrical plugs and the sort of stuff that was needed,” Wilson said.

“The students provided all the labor and learned how to test for continuity. They tested about 14,000 blubs, going through and changing them out. Come the holidays, they will look a lot different on the Parkway because their hard work,” Wilson said.

Wilson said 13 students from the program helped refurbish the lights.

“I think we learn more from those students than they learn from us. We enjoy the relationship we have with the school system, the teachers and the administrators that work on that program,” Wilson said.

“We get attached to them, and they get attached to us. Usually, when we see them age out of that program we try to have some little party for their graduation. It’s really good for our employees to see things they do and how fortunate we all are. We’ve had a lot of the students have gone on to awesome gone to work for us after they finish 12 Plus.”

He said refurbishing the lights was a multi-week process, that the students worked diligently on.

“They might have been spent a couple hours a day working on this, so it didn’t go super-fast. But it was a good long-term project for them, for us and certainly advantageous for the City of LaGrange,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the work the students put into changing the lights gives them a sense of dignity in their work.

“I think seeing the fruits of their labors, and then certainly when it gets to be Christmas time, they can see their work, and it will give them a sense of accomplishment knowing that they had something to do with those and the way they look. They do other work base learning at New Ventures, but not all of it they can see the end result. So this is a perfect opportunity to do that,” Wilson said.