UNION COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Union County High School is going the extra mile for a program aimed at helping students prepare for the real world.

Setting students up for success.

“I love how our teachers push us farther and farther to work better and try better,” said student Elizabeth Anderson.

Union County High partnered with Vocational Rehabilitation to teach this group of students skills they will need after graduation. They are doing that through a program called Jacket Java.

“That’s what it’s all about, life skills. We’re teaching them how to communicate with the public once the graduate high school. It’s all about transition, how can we help them be successful after high school?” said Brooke Lee, a Transitional Service Specialist at the school.

A program runs most mornings.

“When I come in in the morning, I wash my hands, put my apron on and when I do that, I come and sign sheets,” said student Shiana Falls.

The students check the orders and then get to work.

“Right now, I get this out. Whipped cream and this,” said Anderson.

Drink selections range from smoothies, to coffees, to juices.

The daily rotation is about 10 students who spend their mornings counting money, restocking the shop, making orders and delivering them.

Through the partnership with Vocational Rehabilitation, this program also allows these students to job shadow.

“We kind of pick places that kind of line up with their vocational interests and what they may want to do after high school,” said Lee.

Sometimes, the job shadows lead to offers, like for Elizabeth Anderson.

“My favorite part so far was going on my job shadow and honestly, I didn’t know that I would get an offer for a job for working that hard,” she said.

Lee said when the students are juniors and seniors, they get to go out and earn their own money. The program tried to get its start before COVID, but really started taking off this school year.

From clocking in to hanging their apron up, each student steps closer to paving the path for their future.

“These students are awesome and the sky’s the limit for them. I know they’re going to go on to do great things,” said Lee.