BROCKWAY — When the graduation parties are done, the confetti cleared away, and the high school diploma begins gathering dust on the shelf, many new graduates have a difficult time figuring out what to do next.

For Brockway Area Junior-Senior High School graduate Savannah Buttery, there was always a plan for right after high school. She went to AmeriCorps.

“I got to travel the United States, take a gap year before college, and to learn life skills,” Buttery explained. “This program has taught me many skills to be used in the future, and I will be sure to use them.”

Buttery graduated in May 2018, but spent the next 10 months traveling around the country in the AmeriCorps.

AmeriCorps is a residential, full-time service project that gives recent high school graduates a chance to help their fellow Americans. During her 10 months, Buttery has worked with Habitat for Humanity in Forsyth, North Carolina, the American Red Cross in the Carolinas after Hurricane Florence, and Metropolitan Ministries in Florida. She has also worked in the Delta National Forest in Mississippi and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Florida.

Right now, she is working in Delaware. She came back to Brockway to talk to her alma mater about the AmeriCorps opportunity. In the middle of January, Buttery has a tan.

“I’m telling soon-to-be graduates to take your time and don’t think you have to immediately go to college,” Buttery said. “There are so many programs out there that can help you with college and life that are worth taking a gap year to do. Just keep your options open and research into more than just college.”

Buttery has not been gone from Brockway long, so she got the chance to talk to students who remember her from her time as a Rover. She and another AmeriCorps member worked to convince juniors and seniors that AmeriCorps would be a good way to follow-up high school.

“This experience is important for young people because it gives them more exposure to the world around them,” Buttery said. “It also develops leaders, and people that enjoy helping communities. This program helps young people find a solid path they want to follow in their future.”

AmeriCorps does urban and rural development, energy conservation, infrastructure development, disaster relief, and environmental projects. She told students that AmeriCorps has a lot of opportunities. She showed pictures of her work in the swamp as well as building a house. Her Habitat for Humanity work in North Caroline allowed her and her team of 10 to build a house from the ground-up. She called that her greatest accomplishment.

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However, Buttery is using AmeriCorps as a springboard to her future. Buttery is her team’s media representative, meaning she gets to contact media outlets and schools as well as take a lot of pictures. That job feeds directly into her plans.

“I hope to become a photojournalist,” Buttery said. “Being the media representative for my team, I gained many skills that can be used in career.”

Buttery still has a couple of months left in her term, but is confident that her experiences will give her a leg-up on her future.

“This program has definitely taught me quite a bit,” she said. “I will carry what I have learned after the program into my college and life.”

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