Proviso East High School junior and senior students got an opportunity to learn more about various careers at the fifth annual VOTECH Fair last month in the school’s field house.
Forty-five colleges, trade groups, and military branches were represented at the fair, providing information to interested students and answering questions. Mark Ondracek, a Proviso East guidance counselor who helped to organize the fair, said that it was an opportunity to show students the different careers that are available.
"Our focus is to provide different opportunities that don’t require a four-year formal education," Mr. Ondracek said. "These are career opportunities that students don’t think about or may not be exposed to."
The variety of organizations and trades that were represented varied. There were beauty schools and barber colleges such as Ms. Roberts’ Academy of Beauty Culture and Royal Image Barber College, some of which provided new hairdos for interested students. Construction trades such as drywall, carpenters, and electricians were represented. Students could check out area community colleges such as Joliet Junior College and Triton College. They could also have a hands-on experience with careers in broadcasting by examining the microphone and other gear that a radio announcer uses, courtesy of the Illinois Center for Broadcasting.
"Bringing these different groups and trades together in one location for students to explore gives them an excellent opportunity to learn what is out there as career options," said Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209. "We need to continue to provide more opportunities to our students to show them that what they are learning in school is relevant to their lives now and in the future. We promote and encourage students going on into higher education to this type of experience since that there are many avenues to getting there."
Also represented were the five military branches – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard – as well as the Army National Guard. The Marine Corps table featured a pull-up bar for students to test their upper body strength as part of the physical fitness test required of all Marines.
Michelle Villaron, 17 and a junior, said that she initially was not being interested in attending the fair. However, it turned into a reward experience after she won a $500 scholarship from Bell Mar School of Beauty in Cicero.
"It was the first thing I was interested in, and (the woman at the Bell Mar table) started giving me more information," said Michelle, who added that she wants to eventually go to Northern Illinois University or the University of Illinois at Chicago to study business with the hopes of one day opening her own salon. "I should thank my teacher for having me go. I ended up liking it and I’m going to take classes during summer to get my cosmetology license."
Mr. Tony Valente, principal of Proviso East High School, said that he appreciated having the VOTECH Fair at the school.
"It is important for a student to know what jobs are available for them to pursue after high school," he said. "We need to expose them to every opportunity that is out there so they can choose what they plan to do."