Fourth-graders Aspire Higher at career fair

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OXFORD — Students at the Oxford Elementary School will aspire higher next week when they meet with representatives of more than two dozen professions to learn about postsecondary opportunities.

The Oct. 20 career fair is part of the Oxford Hills School District’s Aspire Higher monthlong program that encourages students and their parents to think about students’ futures after high school and how secondary education could play a vital role in their success.

Schools across School Administrative District 17 are planning activities such as career fairs and other events that will culminate Oct. 22, when the school and community members step off from the Oxford Middle School at 10 a.m. to march down Route 26 to Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School to celebrate.

This will be the second year the career fair has been held at Oxford Elementary School and already the number of participants, ranging from a hospital pharmacist to a National Park Service ranger, has more than doubled, fourth-grade teacher Melissa Guerrette said.

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“Last year, we held our first career fair in association with the initiative, and this year we are looking to grow the event and showcase a wider variety of postsecondary options,” said Guerrette, one of a committee of teachers planning the elementary school’s Aspire Higher career fair.

Guerrette recently visited two classrooms of fifth-grade students to ask them what they learned from last year’s career fair.

“It gave us a variety of jobs to choose from and they talked about what they did. It was really cool,” student Emma McKenzie said. “Some people showed clips from their jobs, and it was cool. It helped us to see what they really do. I’m hoping there will be more jobs to choose from, and there will be new people to talk to.”

Students say they are looking forward to learning about careers, including working for the FBI/CIA, working as a scientist, athlete, doctor, engineer, paramedic, auto technician, chef or computer designer, some of which may be represented at this year’s fair.

Representatives at the fair will include emergency responders, carpenters, electrical engineers, loggers, a librarian, nurses, a hypnotist, a jewelry designer and many more.

The Aspire Higher parade, which was initiated by former Superintendent Mark Eastman more than 15 years ago when approximately 75 participants marched along Main Street in Paris to promote higher education, now draws thousands of participants from the schools and community.

Additionally, more than 60 Aspire Higher $100 scholarships donated by businesses and community members are awarded annually in assemblies at each school.

The effort to expand the connection between OHSD students and the community at large was highlighted in the recently released a strategic plan called “Building a Bridge to the Future, elevating the performance and effectiveness of our school.

The report in part called for an expanded effort to engage the community with the school district in part by cultivating and developing community collaborations and outreach opportunities for learning.

The report was created by a large group of school and community members over a 15-month period.

“Our kids need to make connections in the world,” Superintendent Rick Colpitts told the board of directors.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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