By Jean Seegers


ROCKTON – Pride is written all over Brandon’s smiling face. Brandon is a hard worker and loved by everyone at Rookies Pub and Grill in Rockton. He is just one of the success stories of Hononegah High School’s (HHS) Vocational Internship Program, a multi-course program that combines a daily classroom component and associated field experiences.

Brandon has been working in the kitchen at Rookies Pub as part of his internship. He washes dishes and assists Chef Kevin DeBus where needed.

“Brandon is a hard worker,” Rookies Manager Brian Asta said. He has done an awesome job working here. It’s a great program.”

Over 30 Roscoe and Rockton businesses are currently partnering with the Vocational Internship Program. The transitional program offers a bridge between working and classroom learning. It gives students with disabilities the opportunity to prepare for the future by developing skills that will allow them the ability to become responsible, productive citizens in their community.

Program coordinators at Hononegah are Jeanine DeHaven-Binger – Classroom Instructor, Justin Wieman – Community Support and Jim LaForge – Community Coordinator.

In October of 2015, DeHaven-Binger received the Youth Leadership Award from RAMP for her dedication and leadership in Special Education as well as her work with students in the HHS Vocational Internship Program.

To participate in the program, students, parents and area businesses are required to sign a contract. Students intern at the business one hour per day. They do not work on days when not attending school. Bus transportation from HHS to their placement site and home are provided.

The internship program at Hononegah is connected to RAMP’s “Teens in Transition” program. Learning how to write a resume, how to apply and interview for a job are part of the classroom experience.

Students learn life skills such as: workplace behavior; communication; ethics; how to budget; write checks; how to look for housing and apply for insurance.

”We focus on positive behavior and hard work,” Wieman said. “Brandon is a good example of how the program works. “Brandon is in his third year, and has completed all of the program requirements at HHS. He has found part-time employment through one of his internship placements – Backyard Bar & Grill in Roscoe.”

TIm Denk, a manager at Backyard Grill said Brandon is doing a great job. “He has been working here for

a while. He’s a good kid. He’s always ready to go when he comes in.”

Wieman said the internship program was founded to help students with moderate cognitive disabilities transition from high school to the real world.

The internship program has a close association with Shepherds College in Union Grove, Wis. The college offers a three-year program with services for students with disabilities. Shepherds College is one of only a few colleges offering the program. “We have had four intern graduates accepted to this college from our program,” Wieman said.

In his role as internship coordinator, Wieman meets with businesses in the area.

“The community support has been overwhelming. The businesses in the area have been beyond supportive.”

“At this point, businesses are calling us for information about our program. All of the participating community partners in the internship program reside within the Hononegah District.”

“Our students have abilities. They are going out there to work and learn skills that transfer into numerous job possibilities,”Wieman said. “We want to help our students see themselves as future members of their community and employable adults.”Vocational program







Jean Seegers photo

Chef Kevin DeBus (R) and Brandon work together in the kitchen at Rookies Pub and Grill in Rockton. Brandon is a graduate of the Vocational Internship Program at Hononegah High School. His duties at Rookies include washing dishes and helping out where needed at the restaurant.

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