Eighth-graders from the Killeen Independent School District are getting a peek into what their career future might resemble this week.

About half the district’s 2,600 eighth-graders toured the Killeen ISD Career Center on Wednesday and took part in a college and career fair.

The rest tour today and a community open house is scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The Killeen ISD Career Center, in its second year of operation at 1320 Stagecoach Road in Killeen, provides courses for high school students interested in health science, broadcasting, welding, firefighting, information technology and other fields within nine career clusters.

Monday and today, eighth-graders are focusing on cluster areas that interest them based on an inventory they completed.

Also, 30 area businesses aligned with the specific clusters are providing information.

The Career Center enrollment is about 950, with students coming from all four Killeen ISD high schools in morning or afternoon sessions.

In preparation for high school, eighth-graders will compose their four-year high school plans next month, a document they evaluate twice a year during high school.

“Today, they can come and see that ‘yes, I am really interested in that,’” said Alison Belliveau, Killeen ISD career technology education district coordinator.

“It helps solidify their choices or shows them ‘I’d rather do something else,’” she said.

Angela Lopez, an Eastern Hills Middle School eighth-grader, said she was interested in veterinary medicine, but still open to lots of other fields.

“This is just for us to experience the careers we’re interested in,” she said. “I’m interested in almost everything. This helps us to see the career choices.”

Christy Egbert, one of the health sciences teachers, answered students’ questions in the Career Center’s simulated clinical classroom.

She suggested science courses students should consider their first two years of high school to prepare for the health cluster and she said she’s looking for diligent students. “We need goal-oriented, on-time students,” said Egbert.

Working hard their last two years of high school could earn them one and possibly two career-level certifications in the health care arena, she pointed out. “You are so lucky to have this option,” Egbert said.

Union Grove Middle School eighth-grader Brianna Copas agreed that she was fortunate to be on the tour. “We got to work on mannequins hands-on,” she said. “It was cool. We were doing CPR.”

Keyauna Billups, a Harker Heights High School senior and Career Center student in the education and training cluster, was one of the tour guides for the eighth-graders.

“We hope we get more students to come into the Career Center,” she said. “They can graduate with a certification if they know what they want to do.”

Billups said the knowledge she gathered by working at the center is invaluable.

“I love it,” she said of her two years at the Career Center. “It gives us a lot of opportunities.

“The students here are professional. I didn’t know about it until last year. It opened just in time for me.”

“This is a one-of-a-kind facility in this area,” said Belliveau, noting that Texas has fewer than a dozen such centers and none are closer than north of Dallas or the Houston area. “The opportunity for these students is invaluable.”

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