Keith Beason (center), who teaches construction classes at Dayton’s Ponitz Career Tech Center, demonstrates carpentry framing skills to eighth-graders at a Dayton Public Schools career exploration event Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, at Sinclair Community College. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

Hundreds of Dayton students get look at potential career options

Dayton Public Schools brought hundreds of eighth-graders to Sinclair Community College on Tuesday to learn about possible career fields and the DPS high school programs that students can use to pursue them.

Teachers and high school students in more than a dozen fields including construction management, dental technology, interactive media and firefighting/EMT explained to the eighth-graders what their classes are like and how they connect to in-demand careers.

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“In the Dayton Public Schools, you are allowed to choose your pathway … you’re allowed to choose what you would like to do in high school,” Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli told the students. “Today hopefully will open some doors for you so you can see what’s available and get some ideas what you want to sign up for.”

The transition from eighth grade to high school has been a time of higher dropout risk for years, according to nationwide statistics. Tuesday’s DPS program aimed to make that transition smoother.

Keith Beason, the construction management teacher at Ponitz Career Tech Center, gave an energetic presentation to students, mixing jokes and hands-on opportunities to hold a power saw or use a hammer.

He and one of his high school students helped the eighth-graders try out the proper way to drive a nail, and he explained the opportunities for good-paying apprenticeships right out of high school, or further education at Sinclair.

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Teachers in the cosmetology program gave students a hands-on station for braiding a mannequin’s hair, while allied health staff included a quiz game on health and anatomy. Each student chose multiple sessions in advance – and DPS gave them lanyards with printed schedules so they could locate the rooms at Sinclair.

Kierra Martin, an eighth-grader at Wright Brothers Middle School, said she’s inspired by the passion and happiness her mother takes from her nail salon business and she “wants to be happy like that.”

“I have always been interested in business and cooking. Those are my two main things,” Martin said. “I want to try to make my own business. I really do. … I make a mean grilled cheese.”

Ponitz CTC offers a culinary arts program for students interested in that track. Lolli said DPS has added some general career-focused classes, including business classes, at all six high schools, and specific programs at a few. She hopes eighth-graders think about options now, so if they’re interested in firefighting, they know to go to Belmont, or if they want to pursue allied health, they go to Dunbar.

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“We’ve started to push career understandings down as far as first grade,” Lolli said. “We believe that our students need to be exposed to a variety of careers and opportunities, but we also know that it’s still very confusing for them. So today’s one step toward helping them understand a few things that they might be interested in.”

Wright Brothers eighth-grader Murad Kambarob said he already knows he’s interested in engineering. DPS has added some Project Lead the Way engineering classes, and Kambarob said they’re working on a 3D printer.

He said he hopes to study biotechnology and biofuels “to help humanity in the future and make life easier.”

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