Categorized | Features

Not Your Average Superhero

By Emily Kratzer

It’s no secret to the students of Waynesboro High School that getting a job is difficult. The majority of students end up working in fast food restaurants around town because, when comparing a high school student to a high school graduate with more availability, we’re quickly overlooked. Heather Conrad, owner of Zinga Frozen Yogurt in Waynesboro, had this advice for high school students looking for jobs! “Be yourself, be kind and follow up in person.”


Sarah Layman and Brandon Strickler, referred to as super heroes by their employer, Conrad, are two employees with Down Syndrome working at Zinga. Layman also graduated from WHS in 2011. Conrad knew Layman and Strickler from the Special Olympics and when applying for the job.


“I think her total 100% committed beliefs and accomplishing her goals impressed me, actually inspired me. I remember thinking, geez, if we are that way about our goals, unbelievable things could happen,” said Conrad about Laymen about why she stood out. Conrad also found that Sarah was very vocal and direct while being interviewed.


“What stood out about Brandon was his demeanor; he was very gentle, very kind. He had great manners and he smiled a lot; that was really important,” said Conrad. “When others would talk, he would nod his head when he agreed. Overall his spirit and demeanor was what really struck me as a perfect fit for the shop.” Both Strickler and Layman look forward to their jobs and thank Conrad at the end of each night.


Here at Waynesboro High School, Ms. Lunger has a class of students with a variety of disabilities. The class took a trip to Zinga’s Frozen Yogurt last month to learn different parts of working and having a job. While on the trip, the students got to perform tasks that Zinga employees do on a daily bases like cutting fruit and making cookies. The WHS students got the chance to tour the store and join Strickler and Layman for lunch to ask questions about their job.

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“Being helpful to co-workers, controlling your anger, and to be nice to everyone,” said Luis Diaz-Lopez, a sophomore at WHS, about what he learned about important job qualities.



20141017_10150520141017_101419“Having a good attitude is important and you can’t slack at work,” said Josiah Wade-Jones, a sophomore at WHS.




The class also mentioned things like dressing nice when working and greeting people when they come in. Also that it’s good to have goals for the future and to save money for the future. When asking Strickler and Layman about making mistakes, they were told that they made mistakes at first but they weren’t afraid to ask for help. Wade-Jones and McGregor Long, a sophomore at WHS, are very interested in getting jobs that appeal to their interests. Wade-Jones has applied with the First Aid Crew and Long ins interested in doing landscaping.


Besides working on the curriculum that is required of all students, Lunger’s class also focuses on skills that will help them with living and working independently as an adult. The class practices different job skills around the school and community to give the students a variety of experiences. They study with a special curriculum called Unique techniques which guides them with topics and activities related to transitioning skills.


‘Our hope is that when student’s graduate, they have a good understanding of what they are good at, what they love, and how that can evolve into a job in the future,” said Lunger.


“The heart and soul of her business is having a dynamic group of employees,” said Conrad, who’s very passionate about her work with Zinga. After working with Dominos Pizza for 28 years, she found that life was going by quickly and she wanted to find something to slow down life and also involve her daughter more. Heather mentioned that “food is something that brings people together,” and after touring a Zinga store she decided that that’s what she wanted to do. Conrad also works with the Special Olympics and found that the kids there find joy in working with food.


When asking Conrad about employing those with special needs, whom she likes to call super heroes, she told me that “like you and me, they have challenges too.” Also, she said that employers need to give those with disabilities a chance, they can get the job done too. Strickler and Layman benefit every week just by working a few hours.


“Their mothers like the fact that they have a clean, caring, consistent work environment,” said Conrad.


According to Conrad, “Diversity is awesome!” There are so many different kinds of people here in Waynesboro, whether you have a disability or are just an average student, we all contribute to our small town.


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