Exploring their future

JMS, WHS students learn about different options during Career Day

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"This event expands our kids' horizons. It is important to show them careers that require skill in science, art, physical fitness, math, reading and writing."

-- David Cooke, JMS principal

“This event expands our kids’ horizons. It is important to show them careers that require skill in science, art, physical fitness, math, reading and writing.”

— David Cooke, JMS principal

Rob Pullen loves to fly.

“Being a pilot is awesome,” he said. “It is way better than working. A lot of people work for a living. I fly for a living.”

The crowd of middle school students looked skeptical.

“Yes, you do work,” one said. “You’re a pilot.”

Pullen smiled and said, “I have a great office view and have seen a lot of cool things. I strongly recommend it.”

The Alaska Airlines pilot was at Jemtegaard Middle School for Career Day. He was one of several speakers, who ranged from a police officer to a tattoo artist. Many of the participants are from Washougal or have a local business.

“This event expands our kids’ horizons,” said David Cooke, principal. “It is important to show them careers that require skill in science, art, physical fitness, math, reading and writing. When students see a connection between their studies and a career it is motivating.”

Corey Chase, a lieutenant with the Port of Portland Police, frequently attends career day and other public outreach events.

“I enjoy interacting with the kids and showing them a career path and what they can do,” he said. “It is good for them to see police officers in a positive light.”

Patience Silvers, a seventh-grader, enjoyed listening to Chase, as well as Sgt. Jeff Galloway, who brought his canine partner, a black lab named Wwright.

“I really liked that we got to pet the dog,” she said. “I was most impressed that he could find something (contraband) on a plane in less than an hour. I think being a police officer sounds fun.”

It is the second year in a row that Career Day has been held at JMS. It had been held years ago, and Cooke thought it was important to bring the event back.

“Kids see the relevance of school to career and it is also a great way for our community to connect with our kids. I hope that they learn a lot of work has to occur in order to find a rewarding career.”

Cooke noted the importance of loving what you do.

“Our presenters did a great job conveying the message that being passionate about your work is the key to a long and successful career,” he said.

Career Day at Jemtegaard was held on the same day as Washougal High School. Approximately 45 career speakers attended, along with 20 representatives from various colleges, technical schools, apprenticeship programs and the military.

Speakers ranged from sheet metal workers to trauma room surgeons to musicians.

Flight demonstrators from Insitu, an unmanned aircraft company based out of Bingen, Wash., set up outside the school to demonstrate how drones work and shared aspects of their defense, civil and commercial business.

Insitu designs, develops, produces and operates unmanned aircraft systems. According to its website, practical applications of the technology include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, border patrol, coastal monitoring and other missions that are “too long, dull or dangerous for human pilots.”

Junior Riley Coffman is doing work with the Washington Aerospace Scholars, and thought the presentation by Insitu would be educational.

“It’s interesting to see what drones can do for aviation and other civilian uses,” he said. “In Washington, farmers can pay to have drones look at field use, and they are also useful in tracking wildfires.”

Guy Mcallister, an Insitu demonstration team specialist, frequently travels to schools and colleges to demonstrate how the unmanned aircraft works.

“I enjoy talking to students,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to educate them about what we do.”

Inside the Washburn Performing Arts Center, professional musician Michael Allen Harrison talked with students about what it takes to have a successful career in entertainment. He noted giving your all while performing on stage, practicing your craft and embracing technology as all being important.

“You never know where your creativity will take you,” he said. “Communicating and connection with people is what it is all about. Don’t hold back. Don’t be careful. When you perform, put it all out there.”

Pauline Rule, a WHS biology and medical terminology teacher, was excited to be hosting Mary Clare Sarff, an emergency room trauma surgeon.

“Many of the students are interested in health related professions,” she said. “This is a good day for Washougal. You hope to see students get that glimpse and that spark.”

Sarff emphasized to the students that they didn’t have to have straight As or love math to consider a career in the medical field.

“I hated math,” she said. “I didn’t take any special AP classes in high school. I played sports and studied what I needed to study to pass my classes. I much preferred biology to chemistry. When I took calculus in college, I hated it.”

She chose to enter the medical profession because of the job security involved, the opportunity to be around people and the ability to be financially secure.

“Once I got into medical school, I discovered that I wanted to be in control of things,” she said. “I was accepted into general surgery. I operate on anything but brains and bones. Before I came here today, I was sewing someone’s nose back on.”

Senior Kelcee Mael is hoping to become a surgical technician someday.

“This was the closest thing to attend that was in my career choice,” she said. “I liked listening to her stories and learning more about it.”

Marsha Spencer, career and technical education director, organizes the career day event. Her favorite aspects of it are watching the students’ excitement, and connecting with the community and school representatives.

“People in this community are wonderful,” she said. “Students have come up to me years later and thanked me for doing this career day event. I get super stoked. It is a ton of work but worth the effort.”