Thursday, May 24, 2018
Education

Countryside High career center wants students to discover jobs they will love

CLEARWATER — Jeana Fraser wants to become an optometrist. Or maybe a journalist.

The Countryside High freshman, accompanied by her mother and father, wandered jeans-clad through the school's career fair Thursday evening, actively procrastinating on doing her geometry homework.

The future seems far-off when you're 15, she admitted. But Fraser's parents assured her that early exposure to college recruiters and their expectations may help when she applies to her first choice, Florida State University.

"So, I came to meet people and get some ideas for college," she said.

Now in its fourth year, the Countryside High School career fair attracted about 700 students, parents, counselors and employers shaking hands and small-talking.

Hosted by the school's volunteer-run career center, the fair attracted local employers such as Publix, Radio Disney and the Decorating Den, who handed applications to young job hunters. The University of Tampa, ITT Technical Institute, Ohio State University and U.S. Navy recruiters, among others, offered advice and logo key chains.

"It's one-stop shopping," said Julie Yaeger, Countryside High School Career Advisory Council member and a career center volunteer. "Kids from very diverse backgrounds get a chance to meet employers face-to-face, gain interview skills, possibly land an after-school job and talk to colleges in the same place."

It can help students gain an advantage in the increasingly competitive job market, Yaeger said.

Countryside junior Sarah Linthicum attended last year's fair with a mission: Nab a job at Publix. Now, she works the register at the grocery store chain's location in Northwood Plaza.

"I was shell-shocked when I got the job," she said, wearing her green work vest to the fair. "Just thrilled. And it all happened so fast — one minute I was talking to the store manager, then I got the call, then I was bagging groceries."

Publix reimburses college tuition, which will enable Linthicum to study accounting at the University of Central Florida.

Kathleen Lamb, the career center volunteer director, said the fair allows students to explore possibilities and find passions. It's the culmination of year-round coaching at the center, which started 13 years ago with a Pinellas School Board grant.

"We were just a classroom, two chairs and a typewriter then, since funds couldn't be used for computers," Lamb said, laughing. "It's always been a team of volunteers, and we care deeply about what we're doing."

As the center grew, so did funding: A local Rotary Club raised enough money to "spruce things up," Lamb said.

Now, hundreds of Countryside students seek daily guidance from staffers who share recent job listings, edit resumes and conduct mock interviews. Those skills are essential to thrive in an unstable job market, Lamb said, but they aren't taught through the regular school curriculum.

"The career center helped me so much," Linthicum said. "I want others to know they can receive the same help."

"We ask the kids, 'What's in here?' " Lamb said, pointing to her heart. "If you know what you truly love, you know what you're supposed to be doing."

At the career fair Thursday night, a grinning young man launched into push-ups for an Army recruiter. A young woman with shimmering purple eye shadow asked an Aveda hair stylist about beauty school.

"Whatever it is they love," Lamb said, "we want to help students be successful and pursue that career."

Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224.

Comments
Hillsborough teachers hope to get some, but not all of their raise money

Hillsborough teachers hope to get some, but not all of their raise money

TAMPA — Teachers in Hillsborough County came closer on Wednesday to reaching an agreement with the school district that would give them most, but not all of the pay they expected this past year.The deal, if it happens, will end a year-long conflict t...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Ridgewood High faithful recall ‘Pride of Pasco’ as school forges a new path

Ridgewood High faithful recall ‘Pride of Pasco’ as school forges a new path

NEW PORT RICHEY — The line snaked through the hallways and into the cafeteria, as the Ridgewood High faithful waited for their chance to secure a piece of the school’s 40-year history.They came by the hundreds — current and former students, staff and...
Published: 05/23/18
Words of wisdom from Class of 2018 on how school shootings have transformed them

Words of wisdom from Class of 2018 on how school shootings have transformed them

TAMPA — The pain of the Parkland shootings Feb. 14 was fresh on the minds of Hillsborough County’s graduating seniors when about 300 of them received an assignment. Write a 250-word essay on how decades of school shootings have touched y...
Published: 05/23/18
Sheriff: Weeki Wachee High student posted fake school shooting threat

Sheriff: Weeki Wachee High student posted fake school shooting threat

WEEKI WACHEE — A 16-year-old was arrested Tuesday on allegations that she created a fake social media post threatening to shoot students at Weeki Wachee High School, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies said the 16-year-old told...
Published: 05/22/18
Hillsborough school district, teachers move closer to pay deal

Hillsborough school district, teachers move closer to pay deal

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District and its teachers’ union moved closer to resolving their salary dispute during Monday’s negotiating session — but stopped short of reaching an agreement.The teachers, who have spent this school year work...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18
Parents score victory in effort to make travel safer for Westchase students

Parents score victory in effort to make travel safer for Westchase students

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school leaders call it courtesy busing, but to Lauren Hawkins it’s more a matter of life and death.More students living close to their schools in the Westchase community used the Hillsborough school district’s courtesy bus...
Published: 05/21/18
Eckerd College hosts a royal celebration of its own

Eckerd College hosts a royal celebration of its own

A day after England’s royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, St. Petersburg hosted a royal celebration of its own. Among the estimated 500 graduates to receive an Eckerd College diploma at Sunday’s graduation ceremony held...
Published: 05/20/18
Updated: 05/21/18

Hooper: SEL lends a solution to the increasingly toxic world of kids

An incident recently arose between students at Jesuit High School and Academy of the Holy Names that involved allegations of cyberbullying, homophobia, misogyny and assault.It only involved a fraction of the students at two of Tampa’s most prestigiou...
Updated: 9 hours ago
At vigil, another school mourns: ‘It is hope in the face of tragedy that brings us together today.’

At vigil, another school mourns: ‘It is hope in the face of tragedy that brings us together today.’

SANTA FE, Texas - They gathered here by the dozens Friday evening, wearing their school colors, T-shirts that said "Texas Tough," while huddling under the shade of a gaggle of pine trees, not 11 hours after the first shots were fired.They came to pra...
Published: 05/19/18
‘I always felt it would eventually happen here’: A Santa Fe High School survivor’s reaction to the shooting

‘I always felt it would eventually happen here’: A Santa Fe High School survivor’s reaction to the shooting

Paige Curry tried to keep calm Friday morning as a gunman tore through her Santa Fe High School, eventually killing 10 people and injuring another 10. The 17-year-old watched as a girl nearby panicked. Curry, herself terrified, considered running out...
Published: 05/19/18