Thornapple Kellogg School District

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Page Career Fair Lets Students Explore Possible Futures

While many won't make up their mind until high school or college, students at Page Elementary always get a chance to learn about some different career options straight from the professionals who work in the fields every day.

During one presentation students created a mock trial scene. Another presentation let students explore an ambulance. Still another had students testing their engineering techniques to build the tallest structure possible using only spaghetti and marshmallows.

From pilots to doctors, artists and financial planners, many different professions were represented during the two-day event.

The annual career fair allows fifth graders to choose from a group of presenters and attend sessions that interest them most. During the presentations, the professionals describe their jobs to the students, talk about what education they needed to get their jobs, and even explore related careers.

Organized by counselor Mary Holwerda, the event is also often a chance for TK graduates to come back and share their experiences with students in classrooms they once sat in themselves.

Holwerda said the career fair is a great chance for fifth graders to start thinking about careers and especially realizing what levels of education are needed to reach those goals. By middle school, students are able to select some exploration classes that might coincide with possible career interests.

Holwerda said the career fair is a successful event because of the gracious professionals who give up part of their days to come and talk with students and said she's grateful there are so many who are willing to participate year after year.

This year's presenters over the two-day event included medical doctor Jayne Courts Hodgson, Barry County District Court Judge Mike Schipper, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, Aero Med pilot Kyle McClure, manufacturing engineers Megan Thompson and Bob Middleton with Middleville Tool and Die, hair designer Shelly McQueen with Shear Pleasure, Big 10 Basketball referee Jim Schipper, construction superintendent Cade Dammen with Owen Ames Kimball, and TK food service director Jessica Endres.

Other presenters were registered dietician Sarah Flessner with Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, orthodontist Dr. Eric Hannapel, Thornapple Township Emergency Services fire and EMS Karen Borrink, Barry Conservation District Executive Director Sarah Nelson, artist Don Williamson, environmentalist Sara Syswerda with Pierce Cedar Creek, physical therapist Lindsay Vertalka with First Rehab and Sport, and welder Jacob Bauer with Holland Brewing Company.