Local high schools began their second annual “signing day” push Friday, but these events are not the traditional celebration of athletic scholarships.
Montgomery County schools are spotlighting all students’ college and career choices, and encouraging younger students to start making plans for their future now — whether that’s two- or four-year college, the military, or vocational training to begin a career.
“The intent of Signing Day is to build upon what schools are already doing in celebration of their seniors’ successes,” said Rusty Clifford, superintendent of West Carrollton City Schools. “It’s aligning all of the schools in Montgomery County in a coordinated effort, to help build a career- and college-focused culture.”
That dovetails with Learn to Earn Dayton’s desire to see more students earn specific degrees or credentials that lead to good careers.
Fairmont and Stebbins were the first two schools to hold their events Friday. Fairmont students gathered for group photos, announcing their college choices with sweatshirts from local schools like UD, Wright State and Miami, as well as Vanderbilt, San Diego and Harvard.
Jake Shook, who will attend Ohio State in the fall, said he was already thinking about a career path early in high school.
“I started doing graphic design my freshman year at home … then I found out there was a (career tech) program for digital design here at Fairmont,” he said. “I’ve been doing it three hours a day for two years and I still love it. It feels like it goes by in 15 minutes when you’re really into a project.”
Many Signing Day events are clustered around May 1, the date by which most colleges require students to commit to a school. Wayne, Alter and the Dayton Public high schools are among those hosting events next week, as part of the countywide push led by Learn to Earn and the county Educational Service Center.
Some schools plan major events — Stebbins held a school-wide assembly for the second straight year — and there’s a big social media push, to put college and career awareness in the front of teenagers’ minds.
Fairmont guidance department chair Nicole Will said her school tries to get students thinking about career paths before they go to college, via career elective classes, guest speakers and industry partnerships. Fairmont’s career tech motto is, “Try what you want to do and be, for free.”
Senior Sidney Faris will head to Sinclair to study interior design after spending time in Fairmont’s construction trades program. She said her fellow seniors are a broad mix. Some know exactly what they want to do and some who don’t; some are calm about moving on after high school and some are “freaking out.”
She encouraged students to reach out to people with experience in job fields for advice.
“For me, I work at Lowe’s and there’s an interior design lady there,” Faris said. “I kind of job-shadowed her, and that’s when I chose what I wanted to do.”