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Working world front and center for MHS students at career fair
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Martinsville High School seniors L.B. Fox (from left) and Ondrea Carter listen to Tim Jamison of the Martinsville Fire and EMS Department talk about career prospects during the school career fair last week. (Contributed photo)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A recent career fair at Martinsville High School was designed to give students a good idea of the skills they will need to find jobs after graduation.

In a departure from past career events that were held after school or confined to a few classrooms, this fair was held during the school day so that every student in the school could participate and talk to the 33 participating employers.

“I was impressed,” said Martinsville School Board member Carolyn McCraw, noting that the students she observed asked good questions of the employers. “It was a learning experience for me, as well.”

Martinsville school Superintendent Pam Heath said the fair fit the division’s goal of “really trying to stress work place readiness skills” for students so they graduate prepared for college and careers.

She added that a table of RRMM architects, who designed the renovations being done at the high school, was “very popular. The kids were excited to see the drawings” of what their school will look like when construction is completed.

Susan Wimbish, career coach from Patrick Henry Community College who is stationed at Martinsville High School, said the event met Heath’s goals.

“I think the kids really got into it” and “have a better idea now of the skills they need for employment,” said Wimbish, who was involved in organizing the fair with the guidance counselors and career and technical education department.

Sandy Forrest, the division’s coordinator of career and technical education, said the staff prepared students before the career fair with pre-employment testing to identify their areas of interest and skill.

During the career fair, “students had to interview at least six businesses and learn about what they do,” Forrest said. Afterward, she said, many classes held discussions or writing activities to follow up on what they learned.

“What we’re trying to achieve is awareness” of the many career options available, Forrest said. Hopefully, students will connect these career goals to the classes they take at Martinsville High School.

Among the employers participating, “we had a bilingual human resources director from Multiwall who was able to talk to our English as a Second Language students” in their native Spanish, Forrest said.

Some students said they were surprised at all the career options and businesses in Martinsville and Henry County.

“I thought it was good. I saw a lot of businesses that I didn’t even know were there,” said senior Joseph Halpin.

Marnié Martin, a junior, agreed. She said she wants to become a pharmacist or engineer, but she liked the Cakes with Personality table. She also learned about child abuse prevention from another table and said she would like to start volunteering in this area.

The Henry County Sheriff’s Office had a motorcycle as part of their display. Deputy K.W. McFarling said it was a draw for students and explained that the sheriff’s office has “deputies trained to be part of that crew.” They help with race traffic and lead funeral processions, among other duties.

“I was really impressed” with the students, McFarling said. “Their respect for us as law enforcement was just outstanding. They were an outstanding group of young people, very inquisitive.”


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