BONNERS FERRY — There are moments in a person’s life, a turning point perhaps, a junction in the road — and the choice that follows can define the rest of a life. For some Bonners Ferry High School students, one of those points in their life may have happened on March 7 — Career Day.
More than 30 different career choices were represented, from jobs that could be started right out of high school, to those requiring college degrees. Unlike some career days, where the students just wander around from booth to booth, this one was tailor made to fit each student.
Bonners Ferry High School Guidance Counselors Jennifer Mackey and Emily Winebark began a couple months ago by surveying the student’s top three choices of careers they were interested in. From there, they compiled a list of careers and then gave that list back to the students and had them mark their top seven choices in order of their interest.
“It is all individualized to the kids,” said Mackay. “We try to give the students at least five of those choices. Of the seven choices they get, they get five of them. Most get one through five.”
Among the many careers and speakers were a police officer, a veterinarian, a welder, author, photographer, chef, pilot, therapist and many more. Representatives from Alta Forest Products and linemen from Northern Lights were also there, giving examples of trades that do not require a college degree but still offer great jobs with good pay.
“There is great opportunity for young kids if they want to get into the trade, make a commitment, and do the work,” said Northern Lights Lineman Brint Gunter. “Lineworks is a good trade and you can make a good living doing it too. It is something that these guys can make good money doing if they are willing to put in the effort.”
Gunter expressed that he was impressed with the opportunity the Career Day offered to the students.
“I think it is good exposure to a lot of different trades and careers that these kids don’t get a chance to see very often, especially like what we do — it is very specialized,” he said.
While some students went into the day with not much idea of what they wanted to do after high school, others used the opportunity to learn the finer points of a career they were already considering.
For student Kelsey English, she especially enjoyed the Elementary Education with Andrea Fuentes.
“The Elementary Education session made me decide that is actually what I want to do, and made me feel more comfortable,” said English. “Overall, I think the career day is very beneficial to everyone and helps all the students think about new things and motivates them.”
The counselors kept most of the class sizes around 20 so that it was more manageable and the presenter did not feel overwhelmed, but a few careers attracted a larger audience, such as cosmetology and chef/baker.
“Photography for example, is over 20 because so many students wanted to hear from a photographer,” explained Mackay.
The day began with return speaker, Idaho Department of Labor Northern Regional Economist Sam Wolkenhauer, whose frank and witty speaking style kept the students attention.
“He talked about finding meaning in a job and what that means,” said Winebark. “It doesn’t always mean you are changing the world, but what is a good match for you and your personality type.”
It was followed by five sessions as the students followed their customized schedule and attended their chosen careers.
“It helped us open our eyes to the opportunities that are presented to us in life and give us an idea of our future,” said student Ben Tompkins, who felt that the career fair was an amazing opportunity.
“Career day is one of the best things I have seen this school do in my 40 years in the business,” said Boundary County School Superintendent Gary Pflueger. “High school is fun and games, but career choice is paramount.”
For students of Bonners Ferry High School, the day may have changed the path of their life, or conformed the one they were already on.