Verso partnering with Gladstone High School wood shop to promote safety

GLADSTONE — A new program at Gladstone’s High School wood shop, which emphasizes safety behaviors and practices to try to avoid any injuries, now has a local company as a sponsor.

The Verso Corporation is partnering with the program which promotes a safe environment and gives awards to safe students in the wood shop. Employees from the Escanaba paper mill were at the shop Thursday to talk to students about the importance of personal protection equipment, and being proactive in order to prevent any injuries.

“Safety is very important to us at Verso, so when we get an opportunity to focus on safety in schools or in the community, we’re very happy to do so,” said Pamla Lauscher, the Safety and Security Manager at Verso. “So being able to partner with Gladstone High School and present on safety and talk to them about safety before they get into the working world is a great thing.”

The school was eager to have Verso employees come and talk about safety, and say that learning safety now can help the students out in the future.

“It’s a win–win for both I think, because we’re preparing students for the opportunities that they’re going to have after high school,” said shop teacher Mark Cousineau. “And we want to make sure that they’re well prepared and have that background in safety and just general work experience so that they show up and they’re ready to go to work and have an understanding of what’s going to be expected of them.”

Along with donating safety glasses and hearing protection to the wood shop, Verso also provided prizes to the students that were voted to be the safest by their classmates.

“We were really fortunate,” Cousineau said about the partnership with Verso. “I was talking with [the assistant principal] Mr. Jacques about how we could reward the students for going an extended period of time with no accidents, because that’s the goal to have none. We had one earlier in the year, and we wanted to eliminate that opportunity for accidents, and I had a problem with that personally because I hate to a student get hurt. And Mr. Jacques had contacted Verso, and that started everything rolling.”

“One thing just sort of lead to another, and we are now sponsoring this proactive safety program,” said Lauscher. “The students are focusing on a safety behavior and being proactive to eliminate any accidents from happening, which is what we’re all about.”

As of Thursday, the students have gone 70 days without any accidents. Cousineau promised he’d buy the whole class treats if they made it to 100.