High school group one of many affected by Oscar Mayer shutdown
The Oscar Mayer plant not only means something to adults who work there, but also to kids in our community who benefit from funding and outreach programs Oscar Mayer provides.
From intense dance moves to advanced classes, senior Siron Offord is going big in high school so he can go even bigger later on.
“I plan to go to college and do general education first, but then I want to go into international business and foreign language,” Offord said.
However, as a high school student, he admitted his high-achieving ways can be alienating.
“It’s really hard to be in an advance placement class as an African-American guy because you don’t really see that much, it’s a harsh reality,” Offord said.
Thanks to high school program King’s Journey, that reality is starting to change.
“King’s Journey is that place set up for individuals who are pushing themselves who want to be greater,” Offord said.
The Madison East High School club brings high-achieving African-American boys together, some for the first time.
“It gives the boys a sense of camaraderie, a sense of pride. ‘Yes, there are other people out there that are going through the advanced placement struggles, that are prepping for these exams, that are going through these classes that look just like me,'” said Aronn Peterson, a teacher and group leader for King’s Journey.
The group has taken that camaraderie a step further by introducing members to successful black men in the community, specifically executives and other employees from Oscar Mayer.
“It gives them another idea of what a career path could be, what other opportunities lay out there and the men that look like these guys are doing,” Peterson said.
Now with the plant shutting down, members fear the business connections and mentorship opportunities will shut down too.
“So missing that I think will be something that we’ll have to deal with and we’ll discuss with the guys how to move forward from that,” Peterson said.
Offord won’t stop moving until he reaches his goals but said he hopes a new business can give him and the rest of King’s Journey the guidance Oscar Mayer once did.
“Believe in us. We will come through,” Offord said.
King’s Journey is far from the only program taking a hit.
United Way of Dane County expects to lose out on about a half a million dollars annually in donations.