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First-ever JHS Career Day reels in 29 alumni

By CAROLINE CARMICHAEL / Staff Writer

It was no typical school day at Jemison High School on March 23.

The entire day was dedicated to JHS’ first-ever College and Career Day, which provided prime opportunities for students to explore numerous occupations and careers.

Twenty-nine JHS alumni, who hold local occupations, volunteered their time to speak with students about their careers.

“I told them I basically want them to let the students know that they were once students at JHS,” Principal Diane Calloway said. “And then I want them to tell their story on how they went from sitting in those classrooms to getting to where they are today — what it took to get there and the times they changed their mind [and] what training it took to get them where they are.”

Each volunteer had a designated classroom for the day, and students traveled classroom to classroom for 45-minute presentations by the professionals.

Students followed schedules based on their top-choice careers they wished to learn about.

Careers included occupations such as auto repair, catering, teaching, dentistry, law enforcement, military, ministry, news, pharmacy, realty and more.

Calloway said she believed the informal atmosphere of a classroom would encourage student engagement and interaction with the guest speakers, more so than an auditorium with speakers on stage.

She was right.

Students freely asked questions and shared their own hopes and plans for the future with their guest speakers.

Speakers happily supplied advice.

“No matter what you want to be, I want to encourage you to be the best you can at whatever you do,” Brian Jackson, owner of Jackson Exterior Finish, told his listeners.

Third grade teacher Alex Cobb Ellison of Jemison Elementary School gave college tips and urged students to choose a career they would love, regardless of education expenses, since loans are attainable even if scholarships are not.

“You need to take care of you,” she said. “You need to make sure you’re on top of it. Don’t let anybody tell you you can’t do it; as long as you want to do anything, you can do it.”

Calloway said the goal of the career day was to engage students in active thought about life after graduation.

“We were trying to find a way to get the students to make a connection — just another tool to use to get the attention of students to get them prepared for after graduation,” Calloway said.

The students’ interactions with their guest speakers appeared to have accomplished just that.

While the school does not plan to host the event every year, Calloway said she would like to see JHS hold a similar event every two or three years.

JHS thanks the nearly 30 volunteer alumni who shared their stories with students.

Guest speakers included: Tony and T.J. Nix, Rachel Rachels, Alex Cobb Ellison, Shannon Welch, Brian Jackson, NaLaura Northcutt, Jeanna Ray Headley, McKenzie Ray, Freeman Ellison, Allison Cobb Bright, Chris Ward, Brian Paschal, Jessica Pitts Trotman, Tammie McGriff, Brian Smith, Andy Davidson, Eddie Reed, Blaze Franklin, Shawn Lowery, Sally Pitts, Lauchlan Smith, Valerie Guy, Heath Hogge, Susie R. Williams, Robyn Avery Cobb, Angie Knight, Brittany Ray Smith, D.J. Nix and Tommy Glasscock.