OXFORD — Oxford Elementary School students met Monday with representatives of more than two dozen professions to learn about postsecondary opportunities.

The career fair was one of many events being held in SAD 17 schools to celebrate Aspire Higher month.

“The students were highly engaged during their visit,” said fourth-grade teacher Melissa Guerrette, who helped organize the event. “Each career booth provoked students’ curiosity, and what the students learned by posing thoughtful questions to the guests will be remembered for a long time. Our school community was incredibly fortunate to have so many visitors who were generous with their time in the interest of inspiring our students and broadening their potential aspirations.”

The districtwide celebration, which will culminate in the Aspire Higher parade set for Wednesday weather permitting, 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.

This was the second year the career fair was held at Oxford Elementary School, and the number of participants, ranging from a hospital pharmacist to a National Park Service ranger, more than doubled, Guerrette said.

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

“The Career Fair was awesome. I think it’s cool that the kids could explore the world by learning about other jobs and seeing what they could be when they grow up,” fourth-grade student Tori Hall said.

Teachers also had high praise for the event, calling it a huge success.

“We worked hard to increase the number of participants for our children to talk with, more than doubling the number of participants from last year. Students were excited to learn about a variety of careers, most right here in our community, and participants were happy to talk about their work,” fifth-grade teacher Sara Roderick said. “This annual event is a wonderful opportunity for our children to expand their knowledge of the kinds of possibilities that await them after high school.”

Students were talking about the event throughout the rest of the day, sixth-grade teacher Ruth Wilson said.

Other schools from the elementary level to high school have also been holding events this month.

At the Paris Elementary School, Principal Jane Fahey told the SAD 17 Board of Directors Monday night that their 6th-grade students are touring the University of Maine at Farmington, visiting everything from classrooms to dormitory rooms, while fifth-grade students are touring the Oxford Hills Technical High School.

“It gets them thinking about higher education,” she said.

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 more than 4,000 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.

Superintendent Rick Colpitts said the parade, in which students, staff and the community at large walk from the Oxford Hills Middle School to the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, will not be rescheduled it is rained out.

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