Career Day Aims to ‘Light a Fire’ for School and Beyond

Students attending sessions on journalism included (from left) Kristian Ristau and Brayden Force (front), and Kaelyn Holleman, Katelyn Paige, Desiree Wise, Noah McGhee and Nolan Hall

Newspapers may be having a tough time surviving, but a lot of the district’s middle school students are into journalism.

Nearly 100 of them showed up for sessions I led during a Career Day on my beleaguered profession. I was one of a dozen people who introduced eighth-grade students to various career and job fields. They included everything from nurses, a doctor and banker to firefighters, an electrician and diesel mechanics.

The late-May event was launched to help students who didn’t feel motivated in school and were unclear about their futures, said Jodi West, a community school coordinator for the Kent School Services Network. The hope was exposing them to different opportunities in both college-prep careers and working trades “would help light a fire,” West said.

Diesel mechanic Stew Hansen talked about his job with Zackary Schmid, left, and Tanner Davidson

“If I can get a child to identify with an interest for his or her future, I can connect it with a purpose to be in school, attend regularly and to behave so they can learn,” said West, adding she plans to offer the day again next year.

Students chose among presenters for 20-minute sessions. In my three groups, most students said they don’t read newspapers — although one girl said she lines her parakeet cage with them. But several followed the news on Facebook and other social media, and some expressed interest in becoming reporters or photographers.

Matthew Reed spoke to me afterward about his interest in journalism, and followed up with an email of questions. I assured him that although it can be stressful, it is tremendously rewarding and a great way to make a living.

Hayden Golczynski said he’d like the opportunity to “write about anything you want to.”

“I like traveling all over,” said Hayden, who also acts and plays guitar. “You get so many experiences. To report about things that you’ve witnessed yourself is just really cool.”

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Cedar Springs Middle School Career Fair

Students attending Career Day sessions on journalism included (from left) Hayden Golczynski, Aryah Bassett, Madelein St. Onge, Shayna Anes, Omani Morales and Alyssa O’Connor
Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine, Religion News Service and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio.

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