Last Wednesday was Job Shadow day for juniors at Kenai Central High School (KCHS). Sponsored by the Kenai Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with a myriad of local business hosts and supporters throughout Kenai and Soldotna, the Job Shadow program is now in its 18th year and growing. According to KCHS language arts teacher Susan Nabholz who helped to organize the event 130 juniors participated this year and that might be an all time high. "It was a large class for juniors this year and we also had over 65 different businesses hosting with numerous professionals and a 95% attendance at the luncheon today and those are very large numbers for our community," said Nabholz. Annually, juniors from KCHS have the opportunity to experience a day in the life of the future career they might want to pursue. "The students provide to us a list of their top three choices of what they would like to do for job shadow. With assistance from their teachers, students research careers and prepare business portfolios, then based upon students' requests, the Kenai Chamber makes the arrangements with corresponding organizations and businesses in our community to host a Shadow, many students going into the unit are unaware of most of the career opportunities that are available in the local area," explained Nabholz.
Central Peninsula Hospital being one of the largest employers on the Peninsula drew nearly 20 students to shadow various health care careers according to Elizabeth, CPH Volunteer Coordinator, "We had a great response from a majority of the directors here today so the students are doing things like shadowing nurses in the OR, ICU, and ER as well as at Heritage Place shadowing an occupational therapist and a student in Dr. Fraser's and Dr. Innes's office. There are a lot more opportunities in the health care field than doctors and nurses," said Elizabeth. Over at the rebuilding site of the Dairy Queen in Soldotna, City engineer Kyle Kornelis, a KCHS grad, had Lee Kemp as his shadow for the day, "This is really interesting to see what engineering is out of the classroom and in the real world. We learn trigonometry in books, but it is really neat to see applied in a real life site," said Kemp. After the DQ inspection Lee shadowed Kornelis to the sewage and water treatment site in Soldotna for another real world experience in engineering.
Meanwhile at 4-D Carpet One Logan Lee and Emily Thomas got to help design a custom bathroom, "I came because I'm interested in interior design and I'm learning how geometry as well as art classes are important in my education," said Emily, "I definitely want to pursue interior design as a career and it's great to see the opportunity that is available here on the Peninsula for that career," added Logan. "They had some great ideas and their design is going to look very nice. They enjoyed the selection process of different things, but we were tough on them having them make some important decisions and seeing how things work in the real world and the challenge of having to draw it out on paper and use the space you have," said Jim.
At the luncheon Stephanie Queen and Kyle Kornelis told about their journey after graduating from KCHS through earning their degree and finally returning to practice their professions in the local area, "I earned my masters degree at Cornell before moving back to Alaska and I wanted to share some of the things I wish I had known in high school and hopefully it made sense to the students," said Queen. "I think it's important at this age to realize that it's okay not to have a concrete plan for your future that it's okay to learn as you go and develop what you think you want to do for your career and understand that it can change as well as stay the same but enjoy you life as it unfolds," added Kornelis.