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What to do after high school?

photo of students working in a kitchen

Jesse Helmer chops blanched and iced broccoli for the baked potato bar at Herkimer College’s American Food & Vending Cafeteria/Kitchen. Under the watchful eye of Caterer/Cook Staci Capes, she also helped prepare a chicken stir fry plate. “I love it, they should do this more often! I want to work here when I am 18,” Jesse said.

The most difficult decision for most high school students is choosing a career path. Too often, students are unaware of their options or do not know enough about a particular job to decide if it is worth pursuing.

To help students through this process, Central Valley Academy has teamed up with Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES and area businesses in the School and Business Alliance. With the assistance of BOCES Career Specialist Rachael Atwater, the alliance has arranged a series of events, all focused on moving students from school to careers.

Each event is carefully tailored to meet the specific needs of students as they progress through their time in high school.

“We begin in ninth grade by surveying individual students about their interests and their skills,” said CVA Guidance Counselor Shannon Darrow.

“That starts them thinking about career options and helps us create an academic plan that moves them in the proper direction.”

Photo of woman and student seated at a desk.

Herkimer County Historical Society Executive Director Sue Perkins showed Myranda Abel what she does on a day-today basis. Myranda, who plans to go attend college to study archaeology, toured facility and museum and examined the Herkimer County History and Family History archives. She discovered there is more to being a museum curator than she expected. “My mind is broadened to the aspect of different careers,” she said.

As sophomores, they tour businesses and service providers in March where they see the range of jobs people hold in the community. For many students, this is their first look at what people do for a living in the Mohawk Valley.

By the time they are juniors, students will begin to narrow down their choices. To help, they have the option to participate in a one-day job shadow program. Students spend much of the day watching—and sometimes assisting—employees in the workplace.

“Job shadowing gives students a clearer picture of what people do at their jobs. After the day, some students decide this is what they want to do, while others cover the job isn’t what they imagined,” said Mrs. Darrow.

Those experiences help students decide whether to pursue additional training or education needed for a career or to plan to directly enter the workplace.

Some students, however, enter their senior year still unsure of their post high school plans. Those students will have the opportunity to attend a job fair in the late spring. The fair will showcase area businesses that are hiring for entry level positions.

“Our ultimate goal is to make sure students have direction once they leave Central Valley,” she said. Mrs. Darrow explained that every student is different. Some know what they want to do while others struggle.

Photo of student looking through a microscope.

Allison Ford examine fecal samples under a microscope at the German Flatts Veterinary Clinic, where she learned what it means to be a vet tech.

Photo of two students and an adult

Tyler Miller and Janina Rogers spent their day at Function Better Physical Therapy. Dr. Kevin Kress, DPT explained the different types of physical therapy and let the students watch as he worked with clients.