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November 19, 2007

Press Release: Martinsville Bulletin

Monday, November 19, 2007

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

About 60 Henry County Schools students participated in a job shadowing program designed to help them decide on future career paths.

Primarily from Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School, students ventured out into the working world last week, spending several hours at what they think may be their future professions.

Tiffany Archer, Hannah Kassebaun and Sarah Wheeler tried their hand in the field of archaeology/anthropology and worked with Dr. Elizabeth Moore, a curator at the Virginia Museum of Natural History.

Archer, 13-year-old daughter of Betty Boitnott and Dewey Archer of Martinsville and a middle school student, said the excursion was similar to what she expected.

Kassebaun, 17, is the daughter of James and Maria Ayers and attends Bassett High School. During the several hours she spent at the museum, Kassebaun learned there is more to archaeology than digging in the dirt.

"There's so much stuff and you have to sort things" once a dig is complete, she said.

There also is equipment to be loaded and unloaded, and students got a taste of that as well.

Moore had hoped to take them on an actual dig near Fayette Street, but the weather did not cooperate, so students helped unload equipment that would have been used.

"We have mentors participating in the program (who) are really good at what they do," said Melany Stowe, spokesperson for the school division.

"Our mentors deserve more (credit) than they get," she said. "They give up an entire day to plan activities and implement (them) for our students."

This year, many mentors may participate in the job shadowing program two days because the organization of the program has changed.

"For the past eight years, we have always scheduled" job shadowing on Groundhog Day, Stowe said. But inclement weather forced rescheduling of those events four years.

So this year, F-C students participated in November and Laurel Park Middle School students will have job shadowing in April, Stowe said.

"We're also hoping the two-day event will enable more students to participate," Stowe said, adding that 100 students participated last year.

The program's importance cannot be underestimated, she said.

"Most of the students have a wonderful experience and feel much more definite" about future plans, while others decide a particular field is not for them, Stowe said, "so it helps both groups."

The job shadowing program begins in the eighth grade and continues through the 12th grade and the Senior Intern Program.

"Students have an opportunity to do this" job shadowing five times, Stowe said, but the intern program for seniors "is much more involved."

One of the biggest benefits of the program is that students discover many career opportunities are available locally, Stowe said.

There are only two students, both in the intern program, traveling out of the county to try careers, Stowe said. One student is interested in coaching professional soccer and another is interested in the television industry.

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