Phoenix middle schoolers check out future careers

Middle school students at E.J. Dillon in Phoenix thought about their futures at the school’s annual Career Day.

Students were allowed to select their top five choices from a list of 40 careers. They received their schedules in homeroom outlining three sessions of their choosing that spanned a half day.

A variety of professionals, from the entertainment world to the medical field, were asked to prepare a 40-minute classroom presentation.

Several speakers were Phoenix alums, including architect Phil Squadrito, preschool teacher Lisa Balles, cosmetologist Korena Grover, F.B.I. agent Michael DuBois and firefighter Dan Dunn.

Others are current Phoenix residents; pastry chef Ann Pellegrino, “DJ Bob” O’Connell, nurse Teri Lawless and nuclear operations specialist Robert Pellegrino.

An emphasis was placed on ways in which school prepares students to be successful in any career.

Chef Pellegrino mentioned how knowing a foreign language is helpful in her line of work. Words like Tiramisu and Crème Brulee come from Italian and French. Science and math are also used in baking, from substituting an ingredient to doubling a recipe.

Pellegrino explained how there are two- and four-year programs in culinary arts.  In a competitive industry, those scooped up for jobs are often the ones with the most education and experience.

Lisa Myers from the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse encouraged students to work in a field they’re passionate about. Students in the session shared their dreams of becoming stunt and voice actors.

Myers told students if they’re interested in a theatrical career, they can begin building their special skills now. In the world of performance arts, that can mean anything from knowing how to ice skate and do a cartwheel to taking voice lessons.

Veterinarian Scarlett Springate of Highland Animal Hospital stressed the importance of education and getting good grades. To become a veterinarian, she had to obtain a bachelor’s degree before going on to vet school for another four years.

Veterinarians need to have strong communication skills, despite working with patients that can’t verbalize their symptoms. Springate often has to relay information to an animal’s owner.

Special Agent Michael DuBois is no stranger to the Phoenix Central School District. DuBois graduated in 1983, and hadn’t been back until this Career Day visit.

DuBois, who now manages F.B.I. agents, started his career as a social studies teacher, and since then has held a job as a police officer and detective. One of the most important documents he refers to daily is the Constitution, a historical document he learned of as a student.

Patrick McDougall, a sound recording engineer, emphasized in his presentation the connection between skills learned in school, and those needed to be successful in the workplace.

He urged students interested in becoming sound engineers to take music theory and technology courses in high school. Understanding the physics of audio is also important.

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