True to its name, the YES employability program has been a positive addition to the Tamaqua Area High School curriculum.

On Tuesday night, John Matulevich, a business education teacher at the school, gave the Tamaqua Area Board of Education an overview of how the program has been working so far.

YES stands for Your Employability Skills and is a career and employment oriented program, outside of the standard school curriculum, said Matulevich. It is sponsored through the Northeast Pennsylvania Manufacturers and Employers Council and is currently in 10 school districts in Schuylkill County. This is its first year at Tamaqua Area. The high school phase of the program initially began in York County in 2001.

The program has a curriculum side and a manufacturers' side. In fact, the manufacturers' requirements are stringent, as students involved in YES can miss only a maximum of nine school days per year and must pass rigid testing of adult education that goes above and beyond regular education, Matulevich explained.

"Out of the 56 students in the program, 27 have passed the standardized testing part of it," Matulevich added. "Almost half have gotten through the hardest part of the program."

If a student completes the program and becomes YES certified, he or she then is in position for preferential hiring consideration at companies that support YES if there is an employment opening available. "In a county with unemployment at 11 percent, that's a nice thing to have," stated Matulevich.

The program also teaches pupils skills that will help them in the workforce, such as personality profiles, team work efficiency, career paths, job search and resume writing and interviewing techniques. "The end game is employability," said Matulevich.

The YES students also get to take advantage of tours of businesses. So far, the Tamaqua Area YES group has toured Highwood USA in the Tidewood Industrial Park in Hometown and THE TIMES NEWS Mahoning Valley plant. They have also heard speakers such as Highwood President John Quarmley, Donna McGowan of Poly Plastics in Delano and Jerry Petrole, CEO of Valley Technologies, a Tamaqua Area graduate and U.S. defense contractor.

"We're going in the direction we want the process to go," said Matulevich. "These students are gaining skill sets needed to be successful in the world."

Tamaqua High Principal RuthAnn Gardiner said the school is funding the program through its site budget but it received a break when another district donated the YES curriculum.

Three of the YES student participants, seniors Michael Gurcsik and Kyle Oliver and junior Rachael Wehr attended the meeting. Oliver said he has already started his own tree removal business and that YES has been beneficial.

"It has helped me with communication, such as shaking hands and making good eye contact," related Oliver.