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Hawkins seventh-graders sample career possibilities

Jeff Bobo • May 6, 2009 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County seventh-graders aren’t expected to choose a specific career path so early in their education, but Wednesday’s second annual countywide Career Day was intended to show some of the options that await them.

Prior to last year, each school held its own career day.

Last year Hawkins County Schools instead opted to establish one career day for all seventh graders in a centralized location where the event coordinators, including the Chamber of Commerce, could concentrate on bringing a greater number and variety of presenters to a single event.

For Wednesday’s event at the Rogersville National Guard Armory, there were 54 booths involving a wide variety of professionals divided into five categories, including arts and communication, business and banking, engineering and manufacturing, health care and health sciences and human services.

Presenters offered students demonstrations and information about what course work to take for various careers.

“One may think that it’s too early to pick a career as a seventh-grader, but we can never begin soon enough,” Director of Schools Charlotte Britton said. “We begin career talks with our students all the way through (their education). The importance of attendance, the importance of working in teams, the importance of good study habits and good grades, in order to prepare them for future careers.

“We like the idea of seventh-graders getting a look at this before they actually make their choices of coursework at the eighth-grade level.”

There was a large contingency from the heath care industry. Nursing, home health care, physical therapy, radiology, rescue helicopter pilots, paramedics and rescuers were among the specific jobs represented.

But the veterinary booth generally drew the biggest crowd in the health area because everyone wanted to pet the dog brought by veterinary technician Cary Barton. Barton said she’s quick to point out to children that there’s more to her job than cuddly puppies.

“They think it’s all just dogs and cats and petting and loving, and that’s why I recommend that they go to a clinic, if they’ll let them, on the weekends or during the summer and just see what actually is going on,” Barton said.

Another popular booth was the National Weather Service, where Morristown forecaster David Gaffin captured the attention of students with his cloud in a bottle experiment.

“A lot of them have indicated that they are interested in weather, especially severe weather — tornados and severe thunderstorms,” Gaffin said. “We’re trying to encourage them if they’ve got an interest in science, math, and especially computers, to definitely give the weather service a try. The weather service is applied science in action, so if they have an interest in weather it can become an interesting career for them.”

The crowds around the Rogers- ville Water Department booth weren’t as large, but water superintendent Jimmy Bible said there were students attracted to the job security provided by his profession.

“People are always going to need water and sewer, and we’re always expanding and upgrading our services, so as far as job security this isn’t a bad career path to look at,” Bible said.

Other utilities were represented such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, Holston Electric and Hawkins County Gas, as well as some of their biggest industrial customers like Eastman Chemical Co., Cooper Standard, Mundet Tennessee and other area plants.

Each branch of the military was also represented, as well as law enforcement, library sciences, teaching, banking, cosmetology, radio and TV broadcasting, realty, law and funeral services.

“Our mission at Hawkins County Schools is to educate and graduate, and we’re trying to focus and raise the awareness of our seventh-graders about the importance of success in high school and graduating with a diploma, and the doors that will open to them,” said Steve Starnes, attendance supervisor and event coordinator for Hawkins County Schools.

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