By Todd Martin
Special to the Daily Herald
Career preparation is starting earlier and continuing later as children consider their interests and adults consider going back to school.
Clifton Park Elementary School hosts its annual Career Night from 3:30 to 6 p.m. today to expose students to the world of colleges and careers and to help parents understand the costs and training options.
During Career Week at Clifton Park, students received a preview Monday from KISD high school students about career and technology programs available for free through the school district.
Elementary students cycled through four stations to learn about health technology, welding, agriculture, cosmetology, audiovisual production, computer maintenance and firefighting.
The event doubled as a showcase for high school students to invest in future Career and Technology Education students. High school CTE counselor Carol Francis told students the district's Career Academy would be ready for them and the time is now to dream about possible careers.
Clifton Park school counselor Melissa Gadd said that while elementary students don't need to decide exactly what they want to do as a career, it's an optimum time to ask questions.
She said third-graders worked on video resumes and mock interviews and other students researched careers through software that matches their lifestyle choices with the required education and salary.
Data shows that students who drop out of high school make choices leading to that decision in middle school.
"We're trying to close that door now," Gadd said. "We want them to be more attuned to the world around them."
Gadd said she's found students who want to be a veterinarian and have no idea the job requires several years of schooling. She told students she wanted to train animals for Sea World until she found out the job required five years of scrubbing and cleaning before working with animals.
On Monday, the elementary students focused on what would be available to them in high school for free.
High schoolers explain benefits
"They need to make good grades so they will have room in their schedule," said Francis of the reality of fitting two-period courses into a high school schedule. "You have to prepare. There's no room for failure."
"Hopefully, we're making the connection from school and good grades to the real world," Gadd said.
Health science students Crystal Lee and Anna Gibbons, both Harker Heights High School seniors, need only to take a test to become certified phlebotomists. As high school students, they have experienced clinical rotations in area hospitals and both are planning medical careers.
They demonstrated for the elementary students how to find a vein in an arm and pretended to go through the process of drawing blood.
"This is what the heart does," said Lee, making a squeezing motion with her hands.
Killeen High School junior Tyler Brown and KHS senior Melissa Smith told students about FFA, which they said is far more than farming.
The pair said they have learned leadership, toured the Capitol and talked with agricultural leaders, learned welding and raised animals.
At the welding table, Ellison High School senior Enriqueta Rivera and HHHS junior J.D. Derosia described to students how metal is welded together.
Tonight at Career Night, participants can find out about college choices at Central Texas College and Texas A&M University-Central Texas, as well as about KISD Career and Technology options, the P-20 Council and financial aid and savings options.
Also during Career Week, Clifton Park students will listen to classroom speakers from various career fields, a motivational charge from an Olympic athlete and the traditional helicopter landing, scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Friday.