Kenowa Hills — Hosting the district’s first community Career Expo since 2019 was a student-powered effort, guided by Kenowa Hills High School teacher Ed Beickman.
The event, held in the Kenowa Hills High School gymnasium on April 19, invited businesses and organizations to engage with ninth- through twelfth-graders and offer information about internships and employment and was open to the community after school hours.
Business and organizations in packaging, healthcare, hospitality and construction were in attendance, as well as Michigan colleges and universities and five branches of the U.S. military.
Beickman said they wanted to host the expo in the spring, in time for seniors to look at careers and colleges and for younger students to explore summer job and internship opportunities. The goal was for every student to visit the expo at least once during the day, he said.
Elise Zahrt served as Beickman’s assistant through the planning process. She attended meetings, delivered fliers to companies to advertise and helped manage event setup.
Other tasks for her and her classmates included communicating with employers, designing table layouts and creating signs to help guide people in and around the expo.
As an engineering teacher, some of Beickman’s learning goals for his students are project management and how to communicate professionally.
“From the beginning, the process of putting together the Career Expo was founded around the goal of providing the best career and post-secondary education opportunities to not only students, but community members as well,” Elise said.
The students worked up until the day of the expo and dealt with last-minute challenges like running out of vinyl to make direction signs.
Planning for the Future
Elise plans to study biomedical engineering at Michigan Technological University in the fall. In addition to her senior year engineering capstone program, she is dual-enrolled in Grand Rapids Community college working toward her general education credits, and serves as a student representative on the Kenowa Hills Board of Education.
As a freshman, Elise was one of the very few females in one of Beickman’s engineering courses. She credits her teacher for helping her learn the skills she needs to succeed as an engineer.
“Mr. Beickman created a very welcoming atmosphere for an otherwise terrified and intimidated girl,” she said. “Through the years, he has pushed me to become a better thinker, engineer and overall person.”