“Sometimes they like getting the money, and they'll take on more hours,” Westerman said. “They'll fall behind in school.”
Northwest Classen has a work program that allows juniors and seniors to have a shorter school day while earning class credits at work. They leave school early for afternoon jobs or come in late after night shifts.
“If we didn't have that, we'd lose some kids,” Westerman said. “One girl, she was in tears because she was going to have to quit school.”
Senior DeShawn Holliday, 18, said it's important to balance work and school. Holliday works about 30 hours a week as a Walmart cashier. He pays for his phone bill and also gives money to his family.
He has a heavy homework load during his last semester, but he is focusing on the prize: college. Holliday said he hopes to study vocal music at the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma.
His advice for other working students is simple: “Take care of yourself.”