Outside the Classroom – Career Exploration Internship



Outside the Classroom – Career Exploration Internship

Northridge High School has been offering a ‘Career Exploration Internship’ (commonly known as ‘Work Experience’) for years. Headed by coordinator/supervisor Mike Wickersham, it is an elective for seniors with three consecutive hours free in their daily schedule. Students find a place of employment (or volunteer work) and a supervisor there will train and evaluate them, coordinating with the school.

How It Works

“Students must attend class meetings and complete online exercises intended to enhance their work experience and training,” says Wickersham. “Local business owners and managers also come to share personal guidance and advice in developing their employability skills.” Recent topics have been compensation and benefits, labor costs, safety issues in the workplace, and work hour limitations for students.
In this, his first year of supervising the program, Wickersham is passionate about what he does. “I was excited to work with our local business owners, not to mention all of the new contacts I have made across Elkhart, LaGrange, and St. Joe Counties. We have a great group of employers working to train our students and provide good learning experiences. It’s been refreshing to get out of the classroom and travel to each business and see what the students are doing, discuss their progress, and help them set goals.”

What They Learn

The students are gaining real world, hands-on skills that cannot be learned in a classroom setting. From work ethic to leadership skills, administrative needs to communication, our seniors are being well-prepped for their futures. “All of the students have been successful and some students have greatly improved their employability skills in a way they had not been able to demonstrate in school,” says Wickersham.
Jennifer Schreiber, Assistant Manager at the Essenhaus Village Shops, says “…it has been a fantastic opportunity for both employer and student. Through this program, I’ve met some talented, hard-working, and self-motivated young individuals. I think this type of work experience will be helpful in building the students’ resumes and in giving them a well-rounded experience for future reference.”

Good for Our Community

The best part of this program is how it strengthens our community. Students establish relationships with local business contacts which will be helpful after graduation. The businesses work closely with the school and give feedback to the curriculum, and the school and students learn to reach out to their community, working together as a whole.

Small Town, Big Dreams – Northridge Raider Football 2014



Story by Rich Troyer
Photos by Russ Draper

In the fall of 1971, Northridge High School fielded its first varsity football team. In the 40+ years that followed, Raider football teams enjoyed the support of the Middlebury community despite the limited number of victories.  Entering the fall of 2014, Northridge had won 151 games against 288 losses for a .343 winning percentage.

Something changed in 2014.  The Northridge Raider football team, once the doormat of the Northern Lakes Conference, was a Friday night force which seemingly meted out upon their opponents the torture of 40 woe-filled years of football struggle.  In turn, they were embraced by a community longing to believe in what this team could do.


The Raiders began the season with three impressive wins, followed by two straight losses, and then finished off the regular season with four more wins for a 7-2 regular season.  In the playoffs, they reeled off another four straight wins to win first ever sectional and regional titles for Northridge.  The season ended with the stands filled with fans on a bitterly cold night as Northridge lost a hard-fought game against a very tough New Prairie team.  It was a fall to remember.  Here are Coach Wogomon’s words as he remembers the highlights of this season.

“This is a group of kids you hope you get as a coach. They made it easy. Usually, as a coach, the most difficult thing is when you have players that don’t buy into what you’re trying to get them to do. We didn’t have that with these kids. This group of kids believed in what we asked them to do. They loved playing football together.  When we did get beat, they were ready to come back on Monday and work harder. And they had the same attitude when they won.”

Northridge High School Head Football Coach – Tom Wogomon

Click the image below for more photos, quotes, and Northridge Raider trivia:


NHS Transportation Class

The transportation class, led by Kyle Hembree, is the capstone of the engineering classes offered at Northridge and requires several prerequisites to enroll.

“We used Autodesk Inventor which is 3-D modeling software. The juniors and seniors had already been through engineering classes and had a simple machine background,” Hembree said.

The hefty $6,500 cost to participate in the program was entirely raised through fundraising efforts of the participating students. “The students created a marketing pack to show to local businesses. I was really impressed at how much the community was willing to help out, all the way through Elkhart,” he said.

Jet Technologies, Middlebury Produce and B&J Rocket among others were major sponsors.

Other area schools have participated in the program sponsored by Indiana Mathematics and Science Educational Alliance (IMSTEA) for years but this was the first year Northridge had the opportunity to compete. The rookie team was awarded the best first year team, an honor which made Hembree and the students very proud.

The competition was held June 8th at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Each team consisting of 14 students or less was judged based on maximum gas mileage in a competition aptly named, The Super Mileage Challenge.

Building a car from the ground up that gets maximum gas mileage posed a challenge to the students, but through trial and error the class learned critical problem solving skills. “They learned failure was an option. We went through four to five designs for the frame alone. I told the students it’s O.K. to fail as long as you learn something and when you move on you apply it to what you’re doing,” he said.

Once in Indianapolis, the mechanical engineering was not over.“They had mechanical issues when they got there but this is their baby. When there were broken parts they went to work. Nobody complained. I saw a big change in them from the beginning of the year. Back then they got upset when something broke, at the end they just fixed it,” Hembree said.

Aside from problem solving skills and mechanical engineering the students learned marketing, fundraising and communication skills. Many came in to work on the vehicle over their Spring Break. “They were really proud, they took some real ownership which was pretty cool to see,” he said.

The class is hoping to continue the program next year as long as fundraising efforts are met to support the continuation of the transportation class.