VICTORVILLE — Children are often asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Fifth-graders in the Victor Elementary School District got the chance to contemplate their answers after attending the 11th annual Maintenance and Grounds Career Fair, which began its four-day run on Monday.
Descending on the District Services office in Victorville, nearly 1,300 students visited 12 different stations to get a real-world introduction into a variety of trades and professions by the very people who help keep their schools safe and running smoothly.
Over 15 representatives in nearly 11 different careers were on hand during the opening day. Electricians Ruben Santos and Chuck Baldwin invited students to turn on lights using a gigantic switch, and talked about how to stay safe around electrical sources. The heating, ventilation and air condition (HVAC) department was represented by David Cliff and Steve Armstrong.
Locksmith Dave Wilson’s station included fire extinguishers as well as a large array of locks. Fabrication (welding) was presented by Graham Booye and plumbing by Brian Mills and Jeff Berrios.
Ernie Hernandez discussed his work as a carpenter. Alex Guzman, Alex Hammond, Lawrence Akwaboah and Stacie York represented the information technology (IT) department. Other presenters included the San Bernardino County Fire Department, and for the first time, resource officers from the Sheriff’s Department and nutritional services employees.
The VESD K-6 careers curriculum emphasizes the importance of learning “21st century skills” to ensure success in the work world, including team work, problem-solving abilities and good communication skills. Each career station featured posters that tied their specific jobs to these qualities.
Students came prepared with questions to ask each presenter; several of the youngsters wanted to know which school subjects and skills were needed to be successful.
According to VESD spokesman Eric Camarena, these brief presentations are a collaborative effort between the various departments and educational staff, and a highly positive experience for students and staff alike. Electrician Ruben Santos agreed: “It does a lot for our department. I’m so glad to work for a district where we’re part of the education as well.”
Educational Support Specialist Lisa Sievers believed that it’s vital for children to make connections between school and work.
“Kids need a purpose for why they need to learn,” she said. “When they get that spark of ‘ooh, I can be this,’ then school has more of a purpose.”