October 27, 2021

Finding their way

Homer eighth grade students learn about career options

Photos by Catherine Wilde/contributing photographer

Derek Cass, an 11th grade McGraw High School student in the health occupations pathway through Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES, shows a group of Homer eighth-graders during a career fair Friday how to property remove surgical gloves to avoid contamination. The Homer students were at the BOCES McEvoy campus Friday morning learning about what is involved in different careers.

At one station, Homer eighth-graders were washing or styling a mannequin’s hair. At another they were creating candy spinal columns. And at another they listened to Cortland County Court Judge Julie Campbell tell them what her job entails.

The sessions ran in 45-minute intervals Friday morning and they were all part of a career fair at the Board of Cooperative Educational Services McEvoy campus in Cortlandville for about 170 Homer Junior High School eighth graders.

It was the school’s eighth year of the career fair, said Barb Bachmann, a home and careers teacher for the district — and the fourth year it was at the McEvoy campus.

The space gives the students better access to exploring the trades, like cosmetology or auto body shop work and welding, she said.

Campbell and Matthew Seyfried, a sports management lecturer for SUNY Cortland, were two of 43 speakers through the morning.

Seyfried held the attention of 13 eighth-graders, describing a moment in his childhood when he slid home after hitting a home run, but he was tagged by the catcher just before his foot tapped the plate.

He lost his chance to hit a home run because he slowed down, he said.

“You’re rounding third base right now,” he told his audience. “If you have goals and aspirations and things you want to be, it takes hard work. You have to continue running fast.”

Cortland County Court Judge Julie Campbell discusses with Homer eighth-graders Friday, what the educational requirements are to be a lawyer and what her job as a judge, presiding over six courts, entails. Campbell was one of about 40 speakers talking to students during the career fair at the Onondaga-Cortland- Madison BOCES McEvoy campus.

What makes the career fair unique, said Bachmann, is that students selected which three seminars to attend.

Cecelia Rappleyea was leaving the sports management seminar hosted by Seyfried — but her other two choices were physical therapy and medical professions.

Rappleyea is pretty sure she wants to be an optometrist, but she wanted to check out the sports management seminar because she plays softball year-round.

However, her morning with experts in the baseball field didn’t change her vision.

“I definitely want to go into the medical field because I like helping everyone and there are all different sorts of medical fields and they are all interesting,” Rappleyea said.

Kailey Eustice was actually teaching her BOCES instructor Isaac Thornton a thing or two at the cosmetology station. She demonstrated a fishtail braid.

Eustice has felt drawn to cosmetology ever since she was a young girl, doing hair for her playmates.

“At recess in the fifth grade, I would be doing everyone’s braids,” she said.

Eustice learned about different ways to use the curling iron Friday, and said the career fair at the BOCES campus was eye opening.

“I just want to experience more, I do stuff at home and dye my hair a lot,” she said.

Before the seminars, the students listened to Abigail Baird, director of community service at Onondaga Community College, talk about the soft skills that employers require — showing up for work on time, making eye contact and good interpersonal skills.

Bachmann said the presenters were told to talk about their jobs, the education that leads to those jobs, the salary they could make doing the job, but that’s not all.

“Things they like about their job and things they don’t like about the job,” she said, like being an outdoorsy person stuck inside all day for work. “It gives them things to think about.”