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Pinellas high schools, businesses team up for summer internship program

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Posted at 9:53 AM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 16:02:58-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — While many high school graduates are preparing to go to college next month, there are plenty of others who are looking in a different direction.

The Pinellas Education Foundation is trying to help those students through the Summer Career Acceleration Program.

The South Cross Bayou Advanced Water Reclamation Facility is one of 30 businesses and organizations working with Pinellas County students.

Seminole High School graduate Merric Grego is one of five interns finishing up the seven-week program. He liked it so much he is already in the process of applying for an entry-level job with the facility.

“Most kids their whole life are pushed to go to college and for me, it wasn’t the exact route so I tried to find the next best thing,” said Grego.

This summer more than 100 students from across 17 Pinellas County high schools are participating as interns.

“The idea is to be able to get local business partners to work in collaboration with the school system,” said Seminole High School teacher Jerry Cantrell. “Find out what they have to do to further themselves to take on different careers as they leave high school.”

“I didn’t know what I wanted to be in life, and I felt like this has helped me understand more about myself and all the opportunities here,” said intern Dakota Dupuis.

South Cross Bayou said the experience has been just as beneficial for them as it is for the students.

“This industry needs a lot of new employees, we have a lot of people who are retiring so there’s a lot of open positions,” said Education Coordinator Shea Dunifon. “So we thought wouldn’t it be a great way to fill those positions by getting more engaged with the local school system by introducing these students to these careers.”