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Star students are staples to office

Rod Guajardo / The Natchez Democrat — Jasmine Lewis, from left, Alexius Calhoun and Nathaniel Hood are three of six Ferriday Junior High School students who work as office assistants in the school’s main office. The students are selected each year based on good grades and clean discipline records. Their duties include stapling papers, receiving visitors and parents and delivering material to teachers.

FERRIDAY — Paper cuts and staple jams are no match for six elite Ferriday Junior High School students who, for 50 minutes each day, work as office assistants in the school’s main office.

The students are selected each year based on good grades and clean discipline records.

Rotating throughout the day during their P.E. period, the students work to help office receptionist Amy Mayse, and the rest of the main office, in daily clerical duties.

“Before they got here, I would have to run around the school delivering papers every morning and in the afternoon,” Mayse said. “They help me and the office a lot, but they’re also learning a lot of valuable skills.”

The majority of the office aids’ tasks include stapling papers, receiving visitors and parents and delivering materials to teachers, but Mayse said she stresses the importance of learning communication skills and appropriate professional behavior in an office setting.

“They’re learning things that will hopefully help them out in the long run when they get out of school,” Mayse said. “We explain to them that this is a privilege, and that they need to set an example to the rest of the school.”

Eighth grader Alexius Calhoun is in her first year of helping in the office, and said she appreciates the valuable lessons the experience has taught her.

“I’ve gotten to know a lot of people from working up here, and it’s nice, because it gives you a good reputation with the teachers,” Calhoun said. “It’s also something I can eventually put on my resume.”

Sixth grader Jasmine Lewis volunteers during her fifth-period class time and said she enjoys being in the office with Mayse.

“It’s helping me because its different stuff that you learn how to do now so you’ll already know how to do it later,” Lewis said. “I just like being in the office and getting to help out.”

Seventh grader Nathaniel Hood performs the same duties as the other volunteers, but does have one experience under his belt none of the other office workers have.

“I got to talk on the intercom and call students up to the office,” Hood said. “It was fun, and I hope I get to do it again.”

Rod Guajardo / The Natchez Democrat — Calhoun staples packets of papers together for a class.

Mayse quickly stepped in to say that Hood’s high hopes of announcing over the intercom again might not come anytime soon.

“I’ll have to talk to the principal about that,” Mayse said. “That might be something we look to do in the future, but not right now.”

All three students agreed that one of the hidden perks of the office work is that they sometimes get to know things before the whole school.

But with great power comes great responsibility.

“It’s real hard because you’re friends will be talking about something, and you already know what they’re talking about,” Calhoun said. “But you can’t say anything because you’ll get in trouble.”

At the beginning of each year, each student is briefed on the responsibilities and expectations of the job — including a confidentiality agreement.

“Most of the time we try not to discuss controversial things in front of them, but sometimes it just happens,” Mayse said. “So they know right from the start that everything they hear and see is confidential, and they can’t relay it to anybody or even talk about it at home.”

As the school year starts to wind down and a list of new and returning students start to be considered for the positions, Mayse said she can’t imagine not having the office helpers by her side.

“I’ve had one absent before, and I’m just like, ‘Wow, what would I do without them?’ Mayse said. “They help all of us, and we truly appreciate their help.”

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