BV career fair maps path to successful futures

Friday, December 16, 2016
Berryville High School students attended a Career Fair at the Berryville Community Center last Friday to learn about the career opportunities in the community. (Submitted photo)

Whether students are pursuing a college education or entering the work force after graduation, a high school diploma is crucial for obtaining a job in today's market.

That was one of the biggest points emphasized at the Berryville School District's Career Fair held Friday, Dec. 9, at the Berryville Community Center (BCC).

Eighth-graders, freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors all got the opportunity to attend the career fair and hear from local businesses about what skills and qualifications employers are looking for, the importance of a degree or training and how education and training impact salary.

High school counselor Tiffaney Atkinson said the main goals of the career fair were to increase students' awareness of the career opportunities in the community while showing the connection between the Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses offered at the high school and North Arkansas College Technical Center.

"The state department says schools have to have so much of their population be considered nontraditional completers," Atkinson said. "They are the girls completing agriculture programs and the boys completing the family and consumer science (FACS) programs. We're deficient in that area, so we came up with the career fair as a way to make students more aware of their opportunities."

She said students attended 10-minute sessions with the employers before rotating to a new business.

"We intermingled the businesses, so it wasn't all ag on one side and all FACS on another," Atkinson said. "We mixed them so that they kind of had no choice but to go to places that they wouldn't normally consider. It was pretty simple and went really smoothly."

Principal David Gilmore said the career fair was another way for the high school to educate its students and prepare them to be an asset to their community.

"We want our students going out there, working local jobs and being an asset," Gilmore said. "We feel that's important to help grow Berryville."

Although the high school promotes seeking college education, he said that college is not the only option, so the career fair was a way to promote the school's CTE programs and show students the career options available in the community.

"College is not for everyone, and it's not necessary for everyone," Gilmore said. "But we did ask local businesses to talk to kids about the importance of getting your education and your high school diploma. We have so many kids who get to the end of their school career thinking that jobs don't look for that."

He continued, "They hear me preaching about it all the time, but, if they can hear it from the businesses that will be signing their paychecks, then that reiterates that point. That's huge for us."

He said the businesses involved also taught the importance of soft skills such as being on time, having a positive attitude at work and regular attendance. Gilmore said that Tyson Foods, Ducommun, the Crescent Hotel, Mercy Berryville, several area banks and more sent representatives to speak with the students.

"We're trying to open up kids' eyes to what's available in our community and let them know that there are different levels at every organization," he said. "Many businesses talked about how having college hours, training classes or being a completer in CTE programs on your job application puts you a leg up on someone who doesn't."

Gilmore concluded, "I thought it was good for the students. I got positive feedback from the students, teachers and businesses involved. It was very positive for everyone."

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