Surrounded by several containers of plastic beads, Shane Roberson worked diligently to create a bracelet as he sat at a classroom table recently at the Opportunity School in Concord.
"Black, green, gray," said the 17-year-old as he selected beads and meticulously added them to a string.
A 10th-grader in the Opportunity School's exceptional children's program, Shane started his own beading business, "We Be Bee-Ding," and recently donated his profits - more than $130 - to CVAN Battered Women's Program, a local organization that provides safety, shelter and support for battered women and their children.
"I just like doing it," Shane said. "I like helping people."
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The state's exceptional children program's Occupational Course of Study requires that students complete 300 hours of school-based vocational training, 240 hours of community-based vocational training and 360 hours of paid employment before receiving their high school diploma.
He's already exceeded the 360-hour requirement by about 50 hours through his beading business.
He beads anywhere he can get his hands on beads, string and a pair of scissors.
"At school, at the house, on the road," Shane said. "Everywhere."
He sells his bracelets for about $2 each. He's sold about 60 so far.
"He's a great salesperson," said Melanie Covell, an exceptional children's teacher at the Opportunity School. "He gets something in his mind, and he sticks with it. He's not a typical teenage boy. He really cares about people."
Shane started beading after admiring a teacher's jewelry. Covell helped him raise funds for beading supplies through DonorsChoose.org, a Web site that allows people to donate money to various school projects.
With beads that range in shape from letters to footballs and jingle bells, Shane makes an assortment of colorful bracelets. He even created a catalog for customers to browse and pick out which bracelets they'd like to purchase.
Sometimes people tell him what colors and shapes they want, he said, but he often creates bracelets to match the outfits they're wearing.
He's meticulous in his beading. He ties strings so that knots can't be seen, and when he uses different sized beads, he puts the larger beads together on the bracelet string.
"That way, it won't swing around your wrist," he explained.
Shane also creates animal shapes out of the beads.
"I can make butterflies and all kinds of things," he said.
Shane said he hopes to sell bracelets in team colors to local high schools.
"That's gonna be a lot of work," he said, laughing.
But beading is a calming hobby, he said, and he doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.
"I want to help the sick and homeless."