Comet Career Day goes from vision to reality

Career Fair at Naselle-Grays River Valley High School attracted a large number of students who spoke with advisors about potential job options.

NASELLE — Comet Career Day at Naselle-Grays River Valley School (NGRVS) March 23 attracted more than 50 career representatives, giving NGRVS and Wahkiakum High School students convenient opportunities to learn about a wide range of job options.

NGRVS Counselor Justin Laine dreamed up the event and credits others with helping make it a reality.

“For the past two or three years, I had been seriously contemplating a career fair involving our community members,” Laine said. “In fact, I had developed a list of 40 to 50 possible community members and penciled out a framework many times. I have long felt that we have a wealth of very caring, talented and successful people in our community who represent a broad range of careers. I thought that this might be a fun and engaging way to recognize and celebrate their many talents.”

The school’s GEAR UP team of Shirley Miller, Edie Glenn and Rachel Suomela and administrators Lisa Nelson, Karen Wirkkala and Brian Macy said, “Let’s set a date,” Laine said. (GEAR UP is an acronym for a Department of Education discretionary grant program entitled Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.)

Next steps were drafting an invitation letter and creating questionnaires for students and career representatives. Miller mailed out invitations in January. Over the next several weeks, more invitations and reminders were sent. Additions included several vocational and technical training representatives with whom Laine had partnered in the past.

Laine explained the event’s objectives:

• Expose students to a broad range of career options;

• Provide information and personal insights about careers that they wouldn’t get anywhere else;

• Allow students to connect with parents, staff, coaches and community members in a new and different way;

• Create a “community atmosphere” where adults could share knowledge, experience and passion with students.

“Ultimately, our objective was to give kids a vision of what they can achieve after high school,” Laine said. “We talk about the importance of higher education and post-high school training all the time and hope that this experience will show students what is possible and make their education and planning more meaningful and relevant. An additional objective was to show students careers that are available locally if they desire to stay close to home.”

Seniors Cody Kirkman and Ramzi Estes both said the event should be repeated next year.

“It was good,” Estes said. “I think a lot of people found some interesting things about career opportunities. I plan to get a degree in business administration and would have liked to talk to someone from that field. So, adding someone from that field next year would make it even better.”

Kirkman added, “I’d like to see more representatives from the mechanics and diesel mechanics field.”

“I liked it a lot,” said Mckenzie Glenn. “I had the chance to talk to quite a few different people. One career I didn’t even know about and it was interesting to talk to the representative about it. Everybody I talked to enjoyed it.”

“I liked it a lot too,” said Hailey Weston. If was fun and nice to know that we have a lot of options. We talked to people about a lot of different things and future opportunities.”

A number of people were instrumental in putting the Career Day event together, including Miller, Glenn, Suomela, Greg Nelson, Rhiana Jacot, Randy Tienhaara, Lynette Mullins, Nick Zimmerman and Kyle Higgenbotham. In addition, several of the career representatives went above and beyond the call of duty, which helped the career day exceed expectations.

“I sure hope that our career representatives felt like this was worthwhile,” Laine said. “We are all extremely grateful for the selfless investment of time in our students. I know that our staff and students benefited immensely. We believe that the things the students learned from these career representatives will resonate loudly with them. I would also like to express my apologies to any willing members of the community that we overlooked. We would love to include them next time.”

A complete list of the career representatives can be found on the Facebook page of the Naselle-Grays River Valley School District.

Career Day is envisioned to become an annual event.

Story reporter Nick Nikkila is a member of the Naselle-Grays River Valley School Board.

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