Lake Highland Runs This Avenue


Photo by Delaney Bolstein.

(Above) Kamal Elbabaa, grade 11, is not just a familiar face on Park Avenue; he is also featured daily on the local news channel, Fox 35, in their opening segment highlighting people who help the community. Kamal is very proud of this and looks at his job as an opportu- nity to meet new people instead of simply something to make money. Photo by Delaney Bolstein.

Delaney Bolstein, Co-Editor

I joined the workforce at the ripe age of 16. I never really intended to get a job in high school. I figured it would be hard to balance with school, and I honestly did not need the money but something about being bored on Spring Break makes you wonder if diving into the pool of Capitalism is the next move. And, so I sent in my resume, with absolutely nothing on it, to places nearby. Truth be told, my only criteria for a job was somewhere not messy, selling a product I would buy. The following day, I got an interview for the Park Avenue Kilwins, a dessert franchise
specializing in ice cream and fudge. It was at this moment when it really hit me that applying for jobs was not just a fun little game. I actually had to work.

The night before, I remember religiously preparing my responses to questions like, “Why do you want to work here?” and, “What makes you the most qualified for this job?” for the latter, I really had to let my personality shine, my parents conducted a pseudo interview, and I picked out the clothes I wore. My outfit was professional but not dated. Shoutout to Professional Dress Day. Regardless of my trepidation, the interview was a hit and certainly did not require so much anxiety. Thus began my career as a Kilwins’ Kid.

A big plus of working at Kilwins is being on Park Avenue. The area is really pretty, there are a lot of restaurants and shops nearby, and, most importantly, it is safe. On my breaks, I would take my free scoop of ice cream (ironically, I am lactose intolerant, so this was after a dose of Lactaid) and sit in the park. The area does have its flaws though. During the summer a lot of people walk around trying to convert you to their religion. I have had customers try to sell me books about Jesus and ask to pray for me.

As for the things I loved, I loved cookies and cream (something I have in common with every Middle School girl who comes in). I loved giving kids stickers, the one time when my parents and dog visited me, and people who throw away sample spoons. However, the thing I loved most was my coworkers. Everyone was under the age of 25, most of them being in high school, and it was so refreshing to get to know people with their own stories, totally separate from mine. We bonded over bad customers, wiping down counters, and icy flavors. On summer days, these were the only people I would talk to sometimes. When I quit soon after school started, (with the intent to work holidays) I did not anticipate how sad it would be to say goodbye to them. They had become my work family.

Another thing I learned while working was just how many Lake Highland students have a job. Even on just Park Avenue, there are fellow Highlanders. I decided to interview these members of the workforce including , Kamal Elbabaa and Leo Naylor, grade 11, who work at Peterbrooke Chocolatiers and Starbucks respectively.

Kamal, like me, decided to get a job on a whim. There was not any real motivating factor for him other than summer boredom and wanting spending money. When asked, Kamal also replied, “ However, I ended up finding a job that I really ended up liking and that I planned on keeping throughout the school year.” As for Leo, working at Starbucks fulfilled a childhood dream as he said, “ I chose to work at Starbucks because ever since I was a little kid, I was like whoa it would be so sick to get to shake the drinks, and I just wanted to know how it was done.”

For people like Kamal who balances school, Student Government, Young Democrats Club, Speech/Debate, and the weightlifting team, and Leo who balances school, theatre, and art, having a job is overwhelming. Jobs require being a part of a team, something that likens itself well to school and sports, but the tricky thing about having an entry-level job is that your team really needs you. There are no people on the bench waiting to take your spot. Instead, your coworkers, often other high school students, are the ones who are forced to take your shifts.

Kamal thinks the hardest thing about working as a teenager is, “time because essentially every teenager is very involved with many things, whether it be school, various extracurriculars like sports, their family, or their friends. So being able to juggle between all of that and also being able to prepare for the school year, made things a bit difficult, but as long as you have a manager who’s willing to work with your schedule, then you really can end up having a great time working.” Leo echoed with a similar response saying, “The hardest thing is definitely balancing school. I have to work eight-hour shifts on weekends instead of, you know, three-hour shifts in the week, but oh well. What can you do?”

I experienced the same thing as Kamal and Leo. When school approached, and cross-country practice began, I became stressed. Entry-level jobs are taxing in a way school is not. They take a lot of brain power (a phrase I borrowed from Leo). Memorizing drinks, chocolate codes, and procedures is not easy. You are constantly expected to be, “On.” Working a job also took a physical toll on me. My back ached, and my wrists throbbed. Scooping ice cream is not for the weak. Customers actually used to apologize for choosing a hard flavor to which I always responded, “Haha, but I can arm wrestle pretty well.” That is a lie; I am awful at arm wrestling. I am just weak, but it did give a good tip. Regardless, I started to miss practice and felt burnt out.

Like Kamal said, working a job can be a lot of fun. You get to meet coworkers from totally separate spheres and talk to people coming from all over the world. He recounts his favorite moment working at Peterbrooke saying, “A big Belgian family actually came into the store, and I just learned so much. We had a great talk because I had stopped in Belgium a year prior. We just, you know, exchanged laughs, and it was just all very wholesome and great being able to talk to someone about their culture.”

Human connections were something Leo cited as being his favorite moment as well replying, “My favorite moment has definitely been customer interactions because we have regulars or people who will literally ask to see my manager and tell them to give me a raise. And it’s very sweet, and a lot of the customers here are very, very wonderful.” A customer service job does make one a witness to many weird people though. Leo recounted when a guy gave him a business card saying he was in a Broad- way show and proceeded to explain how the Airforce was holding alien corpses under Antarctica. Kamal’s weirdest customer experience occurred when a kid used his dirty flip-flop as a bottle opener. Mine was when a woman asked me if I spoke any languages. I said that I knew conversational French, and she then  proceeded to sell me a book about Jesus in French.

Lastly, like with me, working a job teaches teens things that the school curriculum is just unable to touch. Kamal, “Learned how to be patient.” He had to work with customers on what they wanted to order or get over a language barrier. Leo learned, “About keeping calm under pressure and socializing and how much a smile and a nice comment can make someone’s day.” Working a job as a teenager is a lot. You will want to hurl a wall at a customer. You will cry, and you will want to quit every week, but you will also meet amazing people, make some extra cash, and learn lessons that you will carry for the rest of your life.

(Above) Fellow Newspaper staff member, Zane Rimes,
grade 10, came in to visit me one day. While working
on Park Avenue is great, a big caveat is that a lot of
people from Lake Highland frequent there. I remember
having to switch from my customer voice, a lot high-
er pitched, to my normal voice when I saw someone I
knew. After a bit, I realized that there is no way to
look cool when you are feeding your friends tasting
spoons. Photo courtesy of Ms. Miranda Arnold. (Photo courtesy of Ms. Miranda Arnold.)