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Starting early: Technical school's camp offers hands-on look at classes

LAWRENCEVILLE - Grace Nawade knew in middle school she wanted to attend Maxwell High School of Technology's cosmetology program.

This week, the rising Dacula High School senior is helping middle schoolers discover Maxwell's programs by serving as a summer camp counselor.

The weeklong camp, which started Monday, allows rising seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders enrolled in Gwinnett County Public Schools to explore one of Maxwell's programs. This is the first year Maxwell has offered the camp.

"Maxwell has been the best kept secret in Gwinnett County, and we're trying to change that," assistant principal Jennifer Fero said. "To get Maxwell to fit into their schedule (during 11th and 12th grades), students have to start planning going into their freshman year."

Each of the camp's programs features hands-on activities. On Tuesday, students in various programs were putting tires on cars, giving manicures, operating a welding torch, designing an advertisement for a theme park and learning infant CPR.

Carolina Mauersberg, who will attend eighth grade at North Gwinnett Middle School, said her mom signed her up for the camp program in graphic communications because she studied it in college.

"I think the camp is informational," said Carolina, who will be using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign to create a magazine this week. "It's helped me learn a lot but in a fun way."

Shiloh Middle School student Obinna Ibebunjo said he was enjoying the Georgia Pre-K Summer Camp, where the middle schoolers served as counselors for the 4-year-olds.

"It's pretty fun ... but it's a lot of responsibility," he said. "When you're taking care of a little one, you realize you're giving this guy an education."

Maxwell principal Donna Powers said the summer camp is a vision she's had since she became the head of the school six years ago. She wanted middle school students to experience the school in hopes they would plan to attend as high schoolers.

"I think it's been a great idea," she said. "I think that the parents are excited about it, as are the students, and I know the teachers are having a great time."