O'Fallon Progress

About 600 O’Fallon, Shiloh eighth-graders explore career options

About 600 O'Fallon, Shiloh eighth-graders explore career options

About 600 O'Fallon, Shiloh eighth-graders from public and private schools across O'Fallon and Shiloh schools explored career options during the O'Fallon- Shiloh Chamber of Commerce's seventh annual Career Exploration Fair.
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About 600 O'Fallon, Shiloh eighth-graders from public and private schools across O'Fallon and Shiloh schools explored career options during the O'Fallon- Shiloh Chamber of Commerce's seventh annual Career Exploration Fair.

Whether they end up growing up to become doctors, bankers, plumbers, educators, employees or politicians, one thing’s for certain — exploring one’s options is the first step to making smart career choices.

About 600 eighth-graders from public and private schools across O’Fallon and Shiloh schools were doing just that last week in O’Fallon when they were afforded the opportunity to explore about 90 local career options during the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce’s seventh annual Career Exploration Fair.

In a few short years, these students will be a part of our workforce. This fair is a service provided at no cost to the schools.

Debbie Arell-Martinez, O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce director

Sponsored by the chamber, Junior Achievement and Scott Air Force Base STEAM Advisory Group, the event took place from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, May 4 at the Regency Conference Center, 400 Regency Park Drive.

Debbie Arell-Martinez, chamber director, said eighth grade is a critical time in the decision-making process for students and “working with these students is an investment in our future.”

“In a few short years, these students will be a part of our workforce. This fair is a service provided at no cost to the schools,” Arell-Martinez said.

Col. Laura Lenderman and Command Chief Master Sgt. Wesley Mathias of the 375th Air Mobility Wing at Scott AFB both joined the ranks for the career fair to serve as role models, too.

“This is wonderful and such a rewarding opportunity for the students,” Lenderman said.

Shiloh resident Amy Hopkins, mother of three, brought her daughter, Laura, 13, to the event, which she described as “simply amazing.”

“When I was her age, we didn’t have things like this and were certainly not given a chance to meet so many different professionals in one room,” Hopkins said.

In a few short years, these students will be a part of our workforce. This fair is a service provided at no cost to the schools.

Debbie Arell-Martinez, O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce director

Hopkins said she was surprised to find out that they were the first home-school family to attend the event.

“We loved it. She has talked for hours about the careers she discovered,” Hopkins said. “She chose the geospatial table, because she didn’t know what it was.

From Amelia Carriel Junior High, Abby Causey and Abby Harrison, both said they were looking forward to the fair.

“I’m not sure what I want to do yet. I’m exploring still,” Harrison said.

Causey said she “wants to be a forensic scientist or a lawyer.”

“Our career fair is a remarkable event unlike any other I’ve seen put together before,” said Dale Sauer, Shiloh School District 85 superintendent.

Allowing the eighth-graders talk with people who are actually do the work in the field and might help students “select a certain course path in high school to allow them to have that opportunity as they enter post-high school life,” Sauer said.

Our career fair is a remarkable event unlike any other I’ve seen put together before.

Dale Sauer, Shiloh SD 85 superintendent

Each school had four to six role model rotations in 15-minute increments, where the first few minutes included an introduction to the career, as well as from the role model(s), as some tables had more than one person representing.

The remaining time was for the students to interview the role models and ask questions.

The last rotation is for the students to visit a role model whose career they’d never considered.

“It is always very interesting,” Arell-Martinez said.

The O’Fallon Progress and Belleville News-Democrat participated in the career fair.

Robyn L. Kirsch: 618-239-2690, @BND_RobynKirsch

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