While students at Hatfield Elementary School aren’t ready to start the job hunt just yet, the grade-schoolers learned about career opportunities from a group of young adults whose careers are budding.

In lieu of a traditional career day, Hatfield Elementary in the Laurel Highlands School District invited students and faculty from the Fayette County Career and Technical Institute (CTI) to provide interactive, hands-on activities for students to explore the programs offered at the vocational school.

On a recent Friday earlier in May, 30 CTI students from various programs provided demonstrations for groups of Hatfield students in grades K-5 who rotated between a dozen stations throughout the school day.

“We thought it was important that kids knew the resources we have in the community and to form partnerships with the CTI,” said Jessie Foster, learning support teacher at Hatfield Elementary who helped coordinate the event.

Hatfield students got their hair styled and braided by cosmetology students while learning how special effects movie makeup is applied.

The agriculture program helped the young students plant flowers for Mother’s Day and had hens, rabbits and goats on hand for students to pet.

Students from Hatfield helped two masonry students from the CTI lay bricks to build a wall, while others took a peak under the hood of a van at the auto body station.

Other CTI programs represented at the career day included health occupations, electrical construction, advanced manufacturing, welding, machine production, information technology, graphic arts, building construction and culinary arts.

Courtney Venick, recruiter at the CTI, said she would like to expand the career day program to additional elementary schools and hopes the event is a pilot for the way the CTI recruits in its feeder districts at the elementary level.

“We wanted to bring our kids here to show the elementary students the types of skills and careers they can learn in high school by attending the CTI,” said Venick.

“This is an opportunity for the CTI students to show their knowledge and experience to a younger generation so they understand the skills and career choices they can explore as young adults,” Venick said.

In addition to Laurel Highlands, the Fayette County CTI serves the Albert Gallatin, Brownsville and Uniontown area school districts.

Hatfield Elementary Principal Heidi Mears said the career day event aligns with a goal at the school to prepare its 380 students to be productive members of the community.

“One of our goals is not making career day just one day, but making it embedded in the curriculum throughout the school year,” said Mears.

In past years, said Mears, the school has held a traditional career day with professionals from various fields visiting the school to speak to the students about their jobs and responsibilities.

However, said Foster, students need to know about other opportunities that exist and how they can begin pursuing those pathways prior to graduating.

“Not every child is going to go to college,” Foster said.

Venick said the event is learning experience for the CTI students as much as it is for the elementary students.

The teenagers build public speaking, community service and organizational skills while acting as positive role models for the younger students, she said.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Venick.

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