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Career Fair

November 16, 2001

Dateline: Andreas Field House, Salida.

I write to you from my table at the School-to-Career-Partnership Career Fair. To my right are the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines. I’m honored that librarians head the lineup of Armed Forces. Libraries are a kind of defense of democracy.

The military booths are popular, as are the health-related ones: Lisa Glenn’s display of smoker and non-smoker human lungs, Marianne Wancura’s dental hygiene booth, and Lisa Miller’s massage chair. You might think that all of Salida’s youth despise smoking, brush their teeth, and take a wholistic view of their health. But in fact, they simply like to be grossed out, get free samples of Trident, and … well … who doesn’t like a massage?

The police and sheriff departments are handing out samples of their respective line tapes: “Do not cross.” My votes for the best fashion use: first to the girl who made a pleasing garter; runner-up to the girl who made a nice diagonal sash.

A local bank gave out balloons. Needless to say, this was ill-advised. It took a little while, but after the first one popped, it sounded like World War III in here. They withheld the balloons, and soon all the available ammo was spent. I imagine that the military nodded in approval at this tactical interruption of supply.

The kids have had to make do with Dum-Dums. Fortunately, Marianne is also giving out samples of Crest.

Any gym teacher would be proud, or flabbergasted, to see so many young men dropping to the floor and giving the Army ten. All for a free keychain.

Right now, during an afternoon lull, I’m watching a young man scramble out of a locker room, grab a leftover cinnamon bun off a table, and frantically sprint back. Soon, he’ll do it again.

It’s not a bad way to occupy hormone-poisoned young men for a time. It reminds me of how we could trust our dogs to stay unsupervised in the yard for hours if They had a picket pin in the wood pile to occupy them.

Of course, the library booth has been quiet. I’ve had a few intelligent questions, visits from students we know who use the library a lot, and forced calls from students who have assigments to do as part of the fair.

This is the best approach to the career fair. Most students are not going to walk up to someone they don’t know and ask about something they know nothing about. The assignments force the issue.

Of course, I’m making fun a little, but I have to say that the career fair is a great thing. I encourage anyone who is able to devote a school day to helping with this effort to do so. I’m certain that this matters.

Years ago, I had a running dialogue with a colleague that we informally dubbed, “Careers your guidance counselor never told you about.” We would exchange tales when we heard them.

As a teenager, I met some scuba divers in the Florida Keys who harvested underwater organisms; isolated various parts, such as nematocysts, in their stainless-steel-and-white-porcelain lab; extracted the chemicals; and sold them to a pharmaceutical company. This is great, I thought. What a life! Who woulda thought?

There are similar tales in our community. I think it’s good for students to hear real life options they can’t possibly imagine, and to see how education mattered with each.

Call Nancy Sanger at the school district for more information. It’s a good project, and a good show.

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