A glimpse into the real world
SHS provides opportunity for students to explore career aspirations
By Heather Murschel, Black Hills Pioneer
SPEARFISH — When students reach the end of their second year in high school, it’s common for most of them to begin asking themselves what they want to do in life.
During this pivotal time in their lives, providing guidance and resources on career opportunities that are available to them is vital to allowing students to start thinking about their career path.
That’s why Spearfish High School has organized its first career fair in more than a decade to be held from 1:45-3:15 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26, 2013. For a little more than an hour, about 160 sophomores will gather in the commons to meet with more than 45 business professionals in the area, whose careers range from hospitality and tourism, finance, human services to education, agriculture, arts, communications and architecture plus so many more.
Marcia Aiken, a counselor at the high school, said they started having conversations about organizing something like this more than a year ago, but it eventually came to fruition and she’s looking forward to see the response from students.
“I want them to get a sense of what it takes to become a professional and how everything they do while in high school is incredibly important to who they will become and where they are going to go,” she said.
Aiken said the fair is focusing on sophomores because they are mature enough to see how these events can help them connect the dots and eventually figure out what they would be interested in.
Once they have an idea of what they want to pursue, it will guide students toward taking courses that will prepare them to enter into their chosen field while still in high school.
Principal Steve Morford said several business professionals are going to provide students with relevant information on their chosen field, as well as answer any questions they may have.
“This presentation and discussion will further solidify the student’s career choice or cause them to look in a different career area,” Morford said.
The career fair will feature 15 different career categories, concentrating on everything from education, architecture, business management to marketing, finance, science and human services.
Each student will attend three 25-minute sessions that highlights each cluster to learn about the overall job responsibilities, education requirements as well as the position’s potential salary.
Spearfish School District Superintendent Dave Peters said he’s excited by the prospect of having career fair activities for students in both high and middle school students.
“It provides our students with ‘hands-on’ learning presented by members of the Spearfish business community regarding their careers and what that includes,” Peters said, adding that it helps familiarize our business community with our school system, staff and students.
It also provides the district with yet another opportunity to work with the Spearfish Foundation for Public Education, which sponsors the event; the Spearfish Area Chamber of Commerce and the Spearfish Economic Development Corporation.
“This is another one of those joint ventures that’s a ‘win’ for everyone involved,” Peters said. Bryan Walker, the executive director of the Spearfish Economic Development Corporation, assisted with retaining business professionals to participate in the career fair.
“It has been a rewarding experience to see the business community and the school system work together on organizing the career fair,” Walker said. “The outpouring of support from the business community has been incredible.”
His advice for students is to encourage them to start planning for their career early.
“I am hopeful that events like this will broaden the students knowledge of the careers which interest them most and maybe even inspire them to chase their dreams,” Walker said.
The outpouring response from business leaders in this community has inspired school officials who hope this career fair will act as a catalyst and provide a guidebook for students striving form success.
“I really appreciate them taking time out of their day to come and talk to our students,” Aiken said. “I know that for them time is money and they are giving us their time, which means more to us than anything.”
Morford echoed her sentiments.
“This could not happen without the dedicated community business professionals volunteering their time,” Morford said. “No one can tell the story of what it takes to be successful in a given career choice better than those in the field. We are extremely lucky to have a great relationship with our business and professional community. They all value the educational process and are willing to do what it takes to enhance the future of our youth.”
In addition to this program, the Spearfish Foundation for Public Education hosts an annual “Community in the Classroom” event, which brings members of the community into classrooms to learn more about our school district. These community volunteers are matched with one 20 teachers in the Spearfish School District who participate in the event.
Other upcoming events that the Spearfish Foundation for Education is spearheading include supporting a production by the Spearfish Middle School drama club that will take place at the Matthews Opera House and Arts Center from April 8-9. Approximately 75 students in the sixth through eighth grade will be involved, a grant the foundation secured will provide funding for an advisor, any royalties and the performance costs.
On April 26, the foundation is sponsoring an event in cooperation with the Matthews Opera House and Arts Center that will showcase Traci Silverman, an accomplished electronic violin player, who will perform at student assemblies at Creekside Elementary School and Spearfish Middle School prior to his performance set to take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 26 at the opera house.
The Spearfish Foundation for Public Education is also sponsoring ongoing projects at Creekside Elementary School.
In Sandy Nichols’ third-grade class, they were provided with a curriculum that allows students to write a class book on animal habit studies through allowing opportunities for them learn about certain animals, compose a poem and illustrate their subject to eventually produce 22 books that contain their findings.
In addition, Lauren Jones’ third grade class, which consists of 25 students, are in the midst of taking advantage of a multiplication game entitled “Timez Attack” that challenges children in and environment that features rich computer graphics, quality sound effects, and an adventurous gaming experience.
In order to enhance the curriculum that showcases the history of South Dakota, Carlene Burke’s fourth grade class received five education kits from the South Dakota Historical Society that contained enrichment activities that highlight significant moments in the state’s history, such as homesteading, fur trade or the life of a cowboy.
Reprinted with permission by the Black Hills Pioneer © 2013.