NorthWood student reflects on job loss in RV industry

Elkhart County has the highest unemployment rate in the state, and people across Michiana are feeling it.

We have heard from business leaders, politicians and workers affected by these cuts, but what about the kids?

It seems the students are determined to keep the Panther Pride alive, even as real-life lessons hit them hard.

NorthWood High School is an academic and athletic powerhouse, full of bright and talented kids.

Among them is senior Laura Lichauer, a gifted artist and good student.

She recently wrote me an email to tell me that her father was losing his job at Newmar. She was concerned about college and her community.

After reading her email, I decided to visit Laura and her classmates to see how they are coping in these tough times.

"I just wanted to tell you that you might be hearing different things about the RV industry, that oh, we're doing fine. Honestly, it's not as pretty as that. The kids are suffering, as well as the adults," says Lichauer, explaining why she wrote the email.

She says the layoffs have left a cloud at her school and it's something that weighs on many kids' minds.

"Kids walking down the hallway, you can tell that something is wrong. But the teachers and staff here are really compassionate about helping the students," explains Lichauer. "I've had teachers come up to me, after they found out about my dad getting laid off. Just giving me a hug, it was just so comforting to know that there are people out there that really care about you."

And they care about her future; Lichauer wants to go to Manchester College. She has an older brother at Purdue and she knows just how expensive that's going to be.

"It is scary to see what we're going to do, and I feel guilty about going to college next year because I know the money is there, from other sources, but I just feel horrible about it," says Lichauer.

"I'm looking for the experience along with my degree, travel the world and see other things. I mean, I love this community, it's great, but I just think there's so much more out there that I can see."

With the same faith-filled optimism she's learned from her school, her community and real-life.

These students have a unique perspective on what is happening in their community. Their school stands to lose a lot of fundraising money from the RV industries based in Nappanee and Wakarusa, but they are determined to make it through.

To read part two of this series, click here.

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