The Westerly Sun
WOOD RIVER JCT. — Students at Chariho Middle School streamed into the gymnasium Friday, eager to explore career options at the school’s seventh annual Career Day.
Organized by fifth-grade teacher Susan Allen, the event takes months of planning and preparation. This year, 27 companies took part, along with first responders, engineers and other professionals, college representatives, students from Chariho career programs, and a robot named Beam.
Emma Sullivan, from Chariho Tech’s computer technology program, guided Beam, who stood about 4 feet high and had a computer screen for a face, through the crowded gym, but the robot, gliding on wheels, was actually controlled wirelessly by another student, Christian McCall, who was across the room.
“He’s moving it,” Sullivan said, referring to McCall. “He has a mind of his own. I’m just here to chaperone.”
Assistant Principal Mary Beth Florenz said there were more science and engineering tables this year.
“It seems like we have more STEM professionals here this year, which I know the students are really interested in, and every table is busy, so it’s very diverse,” she said.
Chariho Tech Director Gerald Auth said every career and technical program was also represented.
“Career exploration has worked its way down to the middle school,” he said. “For a lot of these kids in the fifth, sixth, seventh grade, this is their first time being exposed to a career and tech program, so this is a big day for us to show the kids our different programs, what we do. We send kids over, so we have our students leading the charge.”
Roger Kelly, representing the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, was talking with students about careers in oceanography.
“I have a job that sometimes people find interesting,” he said. “I’m an oceanographer. I go to see and I collect samples and study climate change and those sorts of things.”
Veterinarian Leah Fischer from the Wood River Animal Hospital in Wyoming said students were interested in hands-on activities.
“We’re doing some bandaging and I have some surgical instruments on the table, that they’re just moving little beads with,” she said. “And there are some cool bladder stones and teeth for them to look at.”
Chelsea Moore, who is in eighth grade, said she enjoyed learning about different careers and also having time away from class.
“It’s fun to learn things, and it’s also a great way to get away from work,” she said.
Trianna Burdick, also in eighth grade, said she was hoping to get some career ideas from browsing the tables.
“You might not have an idea of what you want to do and then you find something you like,” she said.
Florenz said it was not too early for middle school students to start thinking about careers.
“There is a lot of talk today about career paths for students and I think they’re starting to take notice of that,” she said. “They want the information so they can make choices. There are so many options.”