Eighth graders get hands-on at career carnival

Incoming eighth graders from nine of the 11 Wayne County school districts spent Tuesday, Aug. 23, at the Wayne County fairgrounds in Palmyra but it wasn’t for the purpose of eating cotton candy, seeing farm animals and having fun with friends (well that actually was a part of the day).  It was to attend the first-ever Wayne County Career Carnival.

Students visited 35 vendor stations from six career categories and were exposed to hands-on experiences like: building a radio, seeing a 3-D printer in action, taking apart a kitchen stove, checking radiation levels in the environment, working with a pump, sitting inside a police car, seeing both wild and farm animals up close, decorating cookies, touching animal pelts, learning where US citizens go to serve in the Peace Corps, working on a healthcare dummy, and seeing how high-precision commercial lenses are made.

Area businesses and not-for-profits were divided into six career clusters, including:  Arts and Humanities, Business and Information Systems, Engineering and Technology, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Health Services, and Human and Public Services.

More than 150 students rotated through the different clusters over a three-hour period, getting basic information and a beginning understanding about different career opportunities in Wayne County and the region.  After visitng the different booths, the students were all treated to pizza from Mark’s Pizzeria and other delicacies. The students then participated in fun zone activities — playing games, taking part in competitons and eating cotton candy – until the event ended at 3 p.m.

The idea for the event was hatched at a luncheon meeting at Parker’s Grille in Newark this past October.  Assemblyman Bob Oaks met with Jay Roscup from the Lyons Central School District.  Assemblyman Oaks has been very interested in career readiness and encouraging our school programs to give students as much exposure to career options and a greater sense of the importance of taking full advantage of their school experience. Jay Roscup came out of the meeting saying, “Let’s find a way to make a career day happen.”

Jay Roscup is an active member of the Wayne County Partnership for Strengthening Families (www.wcpsf.org).  This group convenes five times a year with work groups that meet more frequently to discuss ways to help families deal with day-to-day challenges and suggest ways to help families function better.  He pitched the idea to the the WCPSF’s Education Work Group and gained their support.  It was not long until he had the area Boy Scout Explorers involved and he recruited Don DiCrasto from Scarlet Thread Ministries to be the operations manager.  Numerous meetings were held with dedicated volunteers to imagine, design and plan the event.

Several companies responded enthusiastically to the request to provide a hands-on experience to eager eighth graders.  School districts made the commitment to provide transportation to the fairgrounds and provide chaperones, the Wayne County Fair was excited to support the event and waited to take down some of their booths from the fair, which ended on Saturday, so the facilities could be adapted for the Career Carnival.  “It all came together for a very positive day for the students and the adults involved,” said event coordinator Don DiCrasto.

“Students were engaged and having fun, said Jay Roscup. “This is exactly what we had hoped for.  Going into eighth grade is probably way too early for students to decide on a career, but it’s not too early for them to start dreaming about what they want to do with their lives.  Hopefully, this event helped them do that.”

Event sponsors included:  Exelon Corporation and the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant, Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group, Mark’s Pizzeria, Wayne County Fair and Seneca Waterways Council Boy Scouts of America.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.” said Assemblyman Oaks. “As I was walking by a group of youth, I heard one say, ‘This was the best day of my summer.’  Another said, ‘Wow, this summer I got to go to Disney World and now here to the Career Carnival.’  I think that speaks volumes as to how most students reacted to the event.”

Steve LeRoy, chairman of the Wayne County Board of Supervisors, toured all the vendor areas and came away impressed. “I saw a lot of excited students talking to the businesses and engaged in hands-on activities. We should do more of this.”

The school districts that helped make the event a success, included:  Clyde-Savannah, Lyons, Newark, North Rose-Wolcott, Palmyra-Macedon, Red Creek, Sodus, Wayne and Williamson.

Area vendors that took part were:  Optimax Systems, Inc, Integrity Tool Inc., Garlock Sealing Technologies, OptiPro Systems, G.W. Lisk, FLCC Mechanical Technology Program, Exelon-Ginna Nuclear Power Plant, Advanced Atomization Technology, Ruffalo Enterprises, Lagana Heating and Plumbing, Boys Scouts of America, DCS of New York, Inc., Reliant Community Credit Union, New Horizons at Logical Operations, Montezuma Audubon Center, Humane Society of Wayne County, Cracker Box Palace, Genesee Land Trust, The Dolomite Group, LART, Upstate Collective, Premier Martial Arts, Lea’s Ferrier Service, Krittr Kris & Feathered Friends Wildlife Rehab, Rochester Regional Health, Newark Wayne Community Hospital, Wayne County Public Health, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Wayne ARC, NYS DEC Police, DEA, Peace Corps, Wegmans Food Markets, Newark Public Library, PhotoCHICA Photography, Sugary Delights Gourmet Cotton Candy, Perfectly Posh and Chair, and Pink Zebra

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