ELMHURST – On a day when York High School’s seniors were set free to visit college campuses and juniors were taking their college entrance SAT exams, the sophomores and freshmen were not forgotten.
The school played host to representatives from a number of different career fields April 5 for its inaugural Career Day.
The York Commons area of the school was filled with tables as students went from person to person Wednesday morning learning about a variety of professions. At the same time, speakers from various trades, military branches and colleges conducted more in-depth sessions at locations across the school.
Ryan Doherty, Assistant Principal for Curriculum & Instruction, said that the purpose of the event was to give students a grounding in all the career options available to them.
“Some people wanted us to give a practice SAT today,” Doherty said. “In the past, we have. I felt pretty strongly, and really, the administrative team felt pretty strongly, that we wanted the kids to see that their career pathway is more than just that one test, and that we do offer a lot of opportunities for kids.”
As the students navigated the commons, they were encouraged to have “meaningful interactions with the various guests. The more such interactions that were recorded, using a QR scanner, the more entries they received into a prize raffle, thereby ensuring that there was a tangible reward for taking the day seriously.
Later, the sophomores and freshmen were directed to the gym to hear from two high-profile guest speakers, neuropsychologist Elizabeth Pieroth, who works with various Chicago-based sports teams, including the Bears and the Blackhawks, and ABC7 meteorologist Phil Schwartz.
Pieroth and Schwartz each spoke about how their careers took unexpected turns. Pieroth ended up changing her major in college when she had an illness that caused her to struggle early on. Schwartz said that while a youthful fascination with weather phenomenon naturally led him to a career in meteorology, his move into TV forecasting was almost accidental, the result of a move to help support a business he was running at the time.
Doherty said that he and head of guidance Heather Saylor, who organized the event, were thrilled by the degree of community support the Career Day had garnered.
“We had hoped for 50 tables, and we thought, ‘Well, that’s a longshot, let’s just shoot for 25 to start,’ and then we hit 30, 35, 40, and then we hit 52,” Doherty said. “A lot of parents are here, they reached out to colleagues of theirs, some of the staff members posted on their neighborhood Facebook page, and so we have some through that.”
Spanish-speaking students were also included, with language assistance, as well as special needs individuals from the school’s Transition Program.
“We want to make sure we’re providing opportunities for all kids,” Doherty said.