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Bringing the options in-house

High school hosts career & college events

Godwin Heights — Godwin High School hosted Career Day and College Day events for its juniors and seniors recently to expose them to opportunities after high school so they can plan their next steps. 

“We tell students about these field trip opportunities where they can go out and learn about a local business and see what opportunities are there,” said counselor Kelly Ibarra. “What we have been seeing, especially after COVID, is that students are not interested in leaving the school.”

Ibarra, school counselor Kristi Bonilla and KSSN Community School Coordinator Kelsey Gruber started looking at the data for on-site visits and decided to flip the narrative.

“Basically, have these groups meet the students where they are at,” Ibarra said. “This provides access to the students who might face barriers, such as transportation, in a setting that is inside the school where the students feel safe.”

Godwin High students visit employers during the school’s first Career Day Fair

Career Day

Juniors Isaac Davis and Michael Rambo moved to the center of Godwin High’s small gym and turned a slow circle to assess all the booths that ran along the four walls of the gym.

The school’s first Career Day for juniors and seniors featured about 30 area employers who shared a variety of work-based learning options such as skills training and college reimbursement. Several of the businesses offered on-site interviews.

Both Isaac and Michael said they were more comfortable meeting with employers on school grounds and would now be more at ease visiting them.

“It makes it a lot easier,” said Michael, who was considering his future prospects for employment. Isaac plans to go to law school and is considering the Grand Rapids Youth Police Academy. “When you go to an employer, it can be overwhelming and you just don’t know anything or what to expect.”

On the other side of the room, senior Elijah True chatted with Jeff Wiereng, a production manager at Valley Truck Parts. Elijah plans to go into residential construction at Grand Rapids Community College.

“I like meeting new people, and even though I will be starting school, I like to learn new things, whether it be trucking or (building fences),” Elijah said. “There are a lot of options for doing what you want, so just go for it.”

Left, school counselor Kristi Bonilla, KSSN community school coordinator Kelsey Gruber and school counselor Kelly Ibarra organized the school’s first Career Day Fair

College Day

Students were invited to fill out applications and given tips about the application process.

“It is a really good opportunity to learn,” said junior Mekiya Zepeda, who plans to major in geology and minor in zoology. “I really like that they are explaining deeper about what their college has to offer.” 

Grand Valley State University, Davenport University, Ferris State University, Kendall College of Art and Design, GRCC and West Michigan Construction Institute were at the event for juniors. 

Also in attendance was Steve Beauclair, program director for GRCC Gear Up!, a federal grant program designed to help the class of 2024 graduate on time and enroll in post-secondary programs. 

Junior Cam Tien Nyguyen is still unsure of her plans after high school. “This has been really interesting, and I do plan to take some tours as I figure it out,” she said.

Read more from Godwin:
The impact of a story
Newly configured preschool focuses on being inclusive

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio

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