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January 18, 2014

Program gives students chance to explore career options

Ada — Nearly 500 eighth-graders will start mapping out their future Wednesday at East Central University.

The students will meet at the Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business to learn about three possible careers, based on an assessment they completed earlier in the year. Representatives from 16 different career clusters will present information about jobs in those fields and the skills each position will require.

As part of the program, the eighth-graders’ parents are encouraged to attend an informational meeting from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the seminar center at Pontotoc Technology Center, according to a news release from the Ada Jobs Foundation. The meeting will cover high school graduation requirements, potential job opportunities after graduation, the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship program and a review of the career expo.

The meeting is also open to parents with children in other grades, who are invited to form a committee that will participate in advocacy work for public education, according to the news release.

Career Discovery Day has its origins in a 2011 conversation among Sen. Susan Paddack, Ada Jobs Foundation CEO Mike Southard Mike Southard and another economic development official. That conversation focused on ways to boost Ada’s pool of available workers.

Also that day, Paddack talked to two Moore High School students who desperately needed career guidance.

Those two conversations showed Ada’s leaders that students needed help making the connection between education and their career plans. That realization prompted leaders to launch Career Discovery Day, which gives students a taste of what lies ahead when they start their job search.

The program began in 2012 with a career exploration day designed exclusively for eighth-graders.

Organizers launched a similar program for ninth-graders in 2012-13, and they started a series of power lunches 10th-graders in the fall of 2013.

The program will eventually expand to include Career Discovery Days for high school juniors and seniors.

Participating students are discussing career choices with their parents, which will pay off when the students start planning their future, Paddack said.

“They will actually, in the long run, save their parents money, and they’ll be more focused,” she said.

Rep. Todd Thomsen said organizers have done a great job with launching the program.

“It’s a very successful program that is unique to our area and hopefully sets a vision in the minds of our students for their future,” he said.

Reach Eric Swanson at adanewsreporter@cableone.net.

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