Students at William Bick Elementary School in Bethel enjoyed their role in a yearly tradition last week when the annual career day was held, bringing dozens of professionals from around the area to present a little about what their job is all about.
The event has been more than two decades in the making, marking a yearly educational celebration for students who just can’t wait to see what a presenter is going to bring up next.
“This has probably gone on for over 20 years,” said Lois Dennis, building coordinator for the event. “This is an annual event, we always have it the first Thursday of May. We used to have it for a K-4 building, but we split. The older grades have it at an earlier date, but we kept ours in May.”
In a manner of speaking, the event turns the entire day into a show and tell session of the highest caliber.
"The kids do a lot of preparation for it," said Dennis. "They think about what they want to be when they grow up. This helps them focus on why school is important and on the aspect of what they're doing now and how it can help them when they grow up. The purpose of this day is to expose them to the wide variety of careers so they will know more of what they want to be when they grow up. We've had such widespread support from people who come on a regular basis, they make it a part of their yearly schedule."
The kids begin to understand that what they are learning now applies to a grander purpose than simple addition or subtraction. Students begin to see how the sometimes boring lessons translate into a lifetime of work and fulfillment in the career of their choice.
"This is totally tied with our grade level indicators and state standards for career education," said Dennis. "Different teacher do different things. I have a whole list of career activities we do in preparation. They do bulletin boards, newsletters, find out about their parents jobs and draw pictures about what their parents do. It's surprising how often kids don't know what their parents do. It's an enlightening thing towards thinking about what you want to do when you grow up."
Dennis said that students also participate in field trips throughout the year, sometimes visiting the local mayor's office or police department to see what those people do during their daily work. The result has been a generation of children who continue to look forward, or fondly remember, their career day experience.
"We try to do something all through the year to culminate in career day," said Dennis. "This is the ending thing. The kids love it. The high school band and choir come back to perform for us, and they say that they miss career day. They look back on it as part of their fond memory of the elementary experience. This is something that's a part of their school day every year."
That means, said Dennis, the work of the presenters and the career day planning committee can quite literally impact a life for years to come, possibly creating a new generation of presenters for future career day celebrations.
"I work with a committee, and the committee is integral towards putting this together," said Dennis. "I'm so grateful for the people who are willing to take time from their day to come in and talk to us. It's important for the kids to realize that they can give back."