Students explore options at fair

Published 10:07 pm Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Hundreds of students and parents had a chance to explore career options and get key information to prepare them for high school and college during Saturday’s 2019 College and Career Readiness Fair.

“It gives them an opportunity to see exactly what they want to do in life,” said College and Career Academy at Pruden Assistant Principal Michael Milteer. “And we want to present every program, whether it be college or in the trades. We want to make sure that they have an opportunity to fulfill their lifetime dreams.”

Suffolk Public Schools specialty programs, along with resource, college and career exhibitors, and the military, were represented during the event at King’s Fork Middle School.

Email newsletter signup

It also featured workshops on planning for high school and college, preparing for tests such as the ACT and SAT, college sports, out-of-the-box career paths, financial aid and a parent’s guide to navigating the high school years.

Dawn Rountree, an engineering teacher at Nansemond River High School, said she hopes middle school students understand their high school options among the specialty programs they could apply for.

Among them are programs in engineering and biomedical sciences through Project Lead the Way, the International Baccalaureate program, the Governor’s School for the Arts and CCAP, along with advanced placement and dual credit classes.

“With what we do, we want them to see the courses they would take, what those advantages are,” Rountree said, “and make sure they’re preparing themselves with what classes they’re taking in middle school.”

Charles Green, a 16-year-old junior in Nansemond River’s Project Lead the Way engineering program, described the work as college-level. He said the first-year’s work is manageable, but it’s in the second year of the program that students really learn how passionate they are about the subject.

“The second year is like a slap,” Green said. “The second year is when you double-down on what you want to do and learn ‘Hey, do I really want to do this? Do I really want to be an engineer?’ If you do, and you really have the passion for it and you really want to, you can push through it.”

He said when he applied to the program, he made it clear that he was going to study engineering whether or not he was accepted into it, and did not apply to any other programs.

Green’s advice?

“They very much need to study hard, keep to their academics, make sure that they’re doing well … but also just because this is a college-level course, and this course will also help you in applying for colleges and help you later in life, so you just want to do your best you possibly can for this program and in this program.”

Sydney Satchell, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Forest Glen Middle School checked out the culinary arts program at CCAP and hoping “just to be able to learn about some colleges and just try to figure out where I want to go with the rest of my life and see how things work out.”

Latial Warner, mother of 13-year-old King’s Fork Middle School student Crestian Warner, said she wants her son to see different career possibilities.

“My hope for him is that he has different avenues where he wants to explore when it comes to not only his career but his education,” Latial Warner said, “that he knows that he has a variety of things that the world offers, that he doesn’t have to be stuck in a box, that he can be anything that he wants to be.”

Jessica D’Angiolillo, mother of 16-year-old Lakeland High School student Logan Audrain, said he wanted her son to come away with potential options for his future. Among the things Audrain checked out was the Paul D. Camp Community College EMS program.

“I’m just hoping he understands all the different careers that are out there, and opportunities for him,” D’Angiolillo said. “College is a great path, but if that’s not the path you choose, then there’s plenty of others.”

The hopes that Warner and D’Angiolillo have for their children resonate with Suffolk Public Schools Coordinator of Career and Technical Education Andre Skinner, who planned the fair along with King’s Fork Middle School guidance counselor Sarah Catlett. Skinner said the event gave students a chance to connect with adults.

“A lot of times adults are thinking they’re the only ones who need to network,” Skinner said, “but this gives students an opportunity to network with adults as well to see career pathways that they have not seen or to be introduced to people and say, ‘You know what? I hadn’t thought of that career pathway as my job, and I think this opens up the door to them.”

Catlett provided a door-opening example.

During the fair, a CCAP student studying cybersecurity approached Hampton University School of Design’s Chris Kozak and talked to him about his interest in attending the school, Catlett said. Kozak was able to connect the student to someone with the university’s cybersecurity program who would be able to talk to the student and possibly provide a scholarship.

Another example Catlett pointed to was Career Services for Success owner Soquya Blizzard who, years ago, attended the event as a student. On Saturday, she was an exhibitor. That, Catlett said, provided yet another definition of success for the fair.

“That’s what we’re hoping for, meeting the needs of each student one at a time,” Catlett said.

As for the students who are feeling pressure to pick something or are overwhelmed, Jaleb Shifflett, a 17-year-old senior in the CCAP culinary program, offered this advice: “Don’t rush it, just take your time. If you don’t know, it’s okay. You have a lot of time to figure this stuff out.”