CTE event shows students the possibilities

Published 8:09 pm Saturday, December 1, 2012

With the help of a simulator, Chief Hull Maintenance Technician Don Stewart of Norfolk Naval Shipyard gives Lakeland High School ninth-grader Jaylie Harvey a lesson on welding. Thursday’s Career and Technical Education Professional Student Conference, a Suffolk Public Schools event, involved about 150 students and various employers at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn.

Suffolk public school students were given a taste of what it takes to land a dream job — and a sense of what that job might be — at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn Thursday.

The Career and Technical Education Professional Student Conference, a Suffolk Public Schools event, connected about 150 ninth-graders with various employers and imparted inspirational words of wisdom.

Students were encouraged to dress for success, and, after a gourmet lunch, were given valuable hands-on experience at eight modeling and simulation stations – a first for the event in its fifth year.

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“The Advisory Council wanted to do something different to expose kids to the concept of modeling and simulation,” CTE Coordinator Gail Bess said. “That’s a growing industry in Hampton Roads. The idea was to expose them to it and hopefully generate their interest in that field.”

Tyler Robinson of Nansemond River High said Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s welding simulator was “very realistic.”

“It really shows what a real welder does,” he said. “I’m very interested in the math and science field and I feel like I would have a very enjoyable time in civil engineering.”

Performing simulated resuscitation on a dummy at the Sentara Obici Hospital station was “pretty cool,” said Christian Torres, also of Nansemond River High.

He said he wants to join the FBI, adding that many members of his family serve in the military.

The city’s director of economic development, Kevin Hughes, gave an overview of Suffolk’s industries and employment opportunities in the conference keynote address.

He also spoke about the “soft skills” employers are searching for, things like the ability to show up on time, work as part of a team and remain drug-free and without a criminal history.

The fast-paced conference schedule involved five-minute intervals for students to move between three information sessions with employers.

“The overall purpose is to provide an opportunity for students to see the diversity and the make-up of the Suffolk business community,” Bess said.

“We know they know retail – Walmart and fast-food (chains) – but there’s so much more diversity in Suffolk because of new companies coming in.”

Many of the employer presenters had visited the event previously, she said, but others were new this year, such as Ace Hardware.

The Ace warehouse at CenterPoint Intermodal Center sounded like a possible plan to Josh Tomovick, another student.

“I’m thinking about maybe going to the Ace factory,” he said. “That seems like something I might want to do.”