KCHS juniors walk in the real world, cast shadows into the future

Posted: Wednesday, March 05, 2008


  CES Capt. Lesley Quelland shows her shadow KCHS junior Coby McAtee the real world of being a fire fighter in Alaska.

CES Capt. Lesley Quelland shows her shadow KCHS junior Coby McAtee the real world of being a fire fighter in Alaska.

Another successful Job Shadow was held last week. The program sponsored by the Kenai Chamber of Commerce annually gets Kenai Central High School (KCHS) juniors out of the classroom and into the real world for a day to experience a career they might be interested in pursuing. The entire KCHS junior class participated this year according to Sal Mattero of the Job Shadow committee, “It was a pretty hefty number this year, up around 130 students, which we were very happy to see and their enthusiasm was also tremendous this year,” said Mattero. Prior to Job Shadow day Mattero did in-classroom orientations for six classes and spoke with them about what they should expect when in the real world of business and appropriate behavior, “Then Wednesday the students were picked up by their hosts early in the morning at the high school and were taking to the various businesses where they spent the day in the work place until 12:30pm when we met for the luncheon at the Kenai Christian Church,” explained Mattero.

Over the years Mattero says he feels the success of the program is just as important when a student discovers a profession they really want to pursue and can then lay out a curriculum path for their future as when they see what they are getting into in the real world and say ‘hey maybe I want to do something else with my life.’ “I feel that is just as much a plus when a student says they have had their chance and decide that is not what they really want to do. That can help them move on in their life’s career and can certainly save them thousands of dollars in education they might not need, it’s a unique opportunity for our young people down here on the Kenai Peninsula,” said Mattero. According to Mattero hundreds of volunteer hours from teachers as well as the business community are put into preparing to bring the students into the workplace for Job Shadow day. The Chamber Job Shadow committee alone has a roster of 15 individuals that work to organize the program throughout the year.

Coby McAtee was paired with Capt. Lesley Quelland at Central Emergency Services and said it was an exciting day because he has been interested in becoming a fireman since 2001, “I always thought it would be an exciting career, but today I learned that it takes a lot of medical training to help people as well as fire fighting skills, as well as extreme physical fitness, that helmet is heavy and then add an additional 50 pounds of gear, I’ll be doing some serious fitness training for sure,” said McAtee. Coby also learned from CES staff that the University of Fairbanks has an excellent EMT program and would make a good choice for him to pursue his career, “There are options open to young people who want to enter our profession and certainly we encourage them to go to college and earn their fire science degree, we certainly deal with a lot of math and science here. There are also state fire fight one courses that are taught at the PRISM center in Kenai, but you really get ahead with your education and knowledge of the work in the field by getting the two year degree,” explained Capt. Quelland. She added that the Job Shadow program was an excellent opportunity for students to get an idea of what is required for a 25 year career, “We also have an explorers program here at CES that meets on Thursday night where kids 16 and up can come in and actually learn some of the skills that we use prior to earning their certification so they can see if this is truly what they want as a career,” said Quelland.

Coby had a chance to observe CES employees hooking up equipment for the new emergency response ambulance that had just been delivered to CES, “I can definitely see myself driving this rig some day,” he said.

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