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Students sample grown-up jobs
0213 Career day 1
Second-grade students Ian Cobb and Tamia Tidline pet Rambo while horse trainer Theresa Groover holds the horse in place. - photo by Seraine Page

Students who are still deciding what they’ll do when they grow up may have found inspiration Friday when employees of various occupations visited Taylors Creek Elementary for the school’s career day.

As students entered the gym, they stared in awe at adults in their work uniforms — a policeman, a chemist, an archaeologist, a horse trainer and others — who stood behind tables and smiled as children asked them questions about their professions.

Alexcia West, 10, wants to be a dancer when she grows up and said she enjoyed talking to the archaeologist who had artifacts and pictures of Egyptian culture.

"If we only had one kind of job, I think the world would be kind of messed up [because we would] not have the other jobs around us to help us," the fifth-grader reasoned.

The event was designed to help students understand that math and reading are essential when it comes to establishing successful careers, said Sasha Quarles, school counselor and event coordinator.

As a counselor, she has been visiting classrooms for the past few weeks to prepare students for career day and helping them understand that school is relevant to their futures, she said.

Quarles said she enjoys seeing the students interact with community members, leaders and workers, some of whom are parents of students at Taylors Creek.

"My favorite part is when they see a career that they didn’t know about — they’re exposed to something they’ve never seen before," she said. "They see their parents in a different light."

Several students tried on Army bulletproof vests, petted live horses and chatted with professionals about why staying in school and focusing on math and reading are important.

"[I enjoy] just interacting with the kids," Army Spc. Jennifer Ward said. "It’s exciting, it beats working."

Ward and Spc. Kala Smith arrived in full uniform and brought vests for students to try. Both said the students’ enthusiasm was one of the highlights of the day. One student came back to the soldiers’ table several times just to try on the vest.

The event has been going on for years, Quarles said, and it is a way to bring the community into the school system and get the kids excited about their future and learning.

"They [community leaders] see that kids are very curious," she said. "It’s making a good community and school connection. Career day, to me, is the culmination about what we’ve been talking about."

Fifth-grader Andre Harrigan said he has plans to have two occupations when he grows up — a professional basketball player and a teacher.

Harrigan, who thought the career fair was exciting, said he understands that math and reading are important skills to work on. "It’s important," he said of both skills, but admitted he likes reading more. "You have to read to do everything [in life]."

Although neither of his potential jobs were represented Friday, Harrigan thought the event was a good experience for himself and his peers.

"It’s important because it provides a good experience for kids to see what they can be when they grow up," the 11-year-old said. "It provides certain examples … Career day today, I think it’s really cool."

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