By Taylor Short
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – Hundreds of students flooded the gym at Hettie Halstead Elementary School on Thursday to learn about various professions at the first Career Day.
Teachers corralled each cluster of students into the gym and around to each of the 11 tables where local professionals spoke to kids, hoping to spark interest in their industries.
"And they need to know why they do reading, math and writing because someday they'll use it in a real life application. They're never too young to start thinking about it," said counselor Becky McDonald, pointing to a group of bright-eyed kindergartners. "They're just like, 'Wow!'"
Copperas Cove patrol Officer Doug Ellis, who is also the high school resource officer, unfolded a bullet-proof vest and showed a dozen students a shiny set of handcuffs and how they work.
He told the students how the skills they learn in class today will carry over into the real world.
"You don't just write tickets, you have to also write reports," Ellis said before displaying his ticket book, sending students' flailing hands toward the sky. "Oh no, you don't want tickets. They cost money."
Fourth-grader Donna Manning said she would be interested in police work if she doesn't get her dream job as a professional dancer.
Ellis said giving children a goal to look forward to later in life could help them in school now.
"It's also good that they can see what we do because they watch "Cops" on television and they may have a misconception of what we actually do," he said.
A few tables over, H-E-B employees let students pipe globs of green and pink icing on a white cake as others crowded around mascot H-E-Buddy, a giant paper bag full of groceries.
Fourth-grader Alexandra Garcia said while she still wants to become a veterinarian, she liked learning that the company is 105 years old and that the name stands for H.E. Butt.
Another fourth-grader, Jasir Copeland, said he enjoyed the free goodies from the H-E-B table also but still wants to play professional football like his favorite player, Brandon Jacobs.
Across the gym, representatives from the Coryell County Farm Bureau spun cotton in a gin. Smart & Thompson All Electric employees let students flip switches, lighting bulbs and sounding alarms.
Nurse practitioner Brenda Krause, who teaches nursing at Central Texas College, and her assistants passed out rubber gloves and stethoscopes to students and showed them how to find heartbeats.
She said it's important to inspire children early about the career because nurses are in such high demand today.
"Hopefully, we can teach them what a nurse does so that when they come to the doctor, they're not so scared," Krause said. "If we can get them now and keep them, that's the biggest goal."
Contact Taylor Short at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7476. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcove.