Nearly 1,000 students cycled through the media center at East Wake Middle School on Dec. 11 for their first career fair since they have been at school.
A half-dozen students crammed around the table of DJ Deluxe. Dressed in his karate uniform, Nathan Ray talked to a handful of girls about their experience with martial arts. Nicole Glover, who ran the AT&T Aspire Mentoring booth, kept busy with a steady stream of boys and girls who eagerly listened to her advice.
Around 50 individuals represented 41 local businesses, including the Knightdale Fire Department, State Employees Credit Union and East Wake EMS.
Knightale police officer Ron Fullerton chatted with students, some of whom he knew personally.
“They want to know if I’ve shot or tased anyone,” he joked.
Bonnie Hart serves as the school’s career development coordinator and spearheaded the event. She wanted to expose students to a variety of options so that they know what they would be interested in pursuing later in life.
“The people from the businesses represent not just the career that they are, but their corporation or business as well. They’re here to tell about all of those careers,” Hart said. “They are also good connections for teachers to make.”
Previous career fairs, which have not occurred for some time at the middle school, had always been hosted for eighth graders in the past. This year, the entire school attended the fair in shifts from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“Most children are only exposed to careers by their family,” said Becky Raper, a sixth-grade math teacher. “Having all different career clusters is helpful.”
This is the first career fair that East Wake Middle School has hosted in quite some time, and other area middle schools, such as Wendell Middle and Zebulon Middle, have not hosted career fairs for several years.
Like East Wake, Zebulon Middle plans to host one this school year.
Assistant Principal Dr. Brady Kocher said during a phone interview that the students talked about it continuously the next day.
“They were glad to see the adults taking them very seriously and they were taking it seriously right back,” he said.
Sixth-grader Yasmine Perry said that she learned “a lot of interesting things” at the fair. She was particularly intrigued at the Supreme Martial Arts & Fitness and talked to Ray for a while, since she had previously practiced karate.
Tara O’Leary, also in sixth grade, said that she found the career fair fun and educational.
“I like how they all cooperate with each other,” she said of the different career representatives.
She perused most of the booths, talking avidly to a veterinarian.
“I want to be a vet,” she said. And she thinks she can handle the down and dirty of the job. “I don’t have much gross in me... and I see vets helping animals so much.”
Ray was eager to talk with students about their futures.
“You can inspire someone with just one word,” he said. “You never know who you’re talking to.”