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A judge, a meteorologist and a firefighter walk into a school

Annual career day is no joke

Thornapple Kellogg —Page Elementary School students listened to two hairstylists present about what their jobs are like, and fifth-grader Joseph Webster asked an important question.

“Do you get holidays off, like Christmas and Halloween?” he asked.

Haley Gardner, a former Page Elementary fifth-grader and class of 2016 graduate, explained that as a hairstylist at Lox Salon, she gets to make her own schedule. 

Gardner said even as a fifth-grader, she knew she wanted to be a hairstylist, “so after I graduated, I went right to hair school,” she said. “I remember my career day and learning about jobs I didn’t even know existed.” 

Another student asked what skills she and fellow stylist Lauren Wolfenbarger learned in school that helped them in their careers. 

“We use the color wheel, like you learn in art class, all the time to manipulate color for each person’s hair,” Wolfenbarger said. 

Barry County District Court Judge and 1981 grad Mike Schipper explained to fifth-graders about how a judge is like a referee in the courtroom

Seeing the Possibilities 

Career day at Page Elementary is an annual event for fifth-graders to learn from community members and TK alumni what a day at their jobs are like, what education they needed and why they chose their professions. 

Over two days recently, 19 classrooms hosted professionals from many career paths, intentionally featuring careers that require a college degree or specialized training. 

Students chose three sessions to attend and carried a packet to fill out based on what they learned. They also came up with a list of questions to ask each presenter about their jobs. 

Presenters included a meteorologist from Fox 17 television news, a veterinarian, an orthodontist, a firefighter, an accountant and a construction superintendent.  

In Laura DeWitt’s classroom, 2012 grad James Vannette told students how career day helped lead him to an Army career. 

Mike Schipper, Barry County District Court judge and 1981 grad, said he has come back to his former school for career day for several years.

“When I was a student, I didn’t see lawyers in Middleville, so I didn’t think it was a possibility for me,” he said. “Career day is important because it introduces students to new possibilities and teaches them that they can do anything.”

Hairstylists Lauren Wolfenbarger, left, and Haley Gardner gave out candy to fifth-graders who asked questions about their careers

Read more from Thornapple Kellogg: 
They sure do clean up nice 
Faux toxic spill averted, thanks to teams of students

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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