Opportunities for a lifetime: Kealakehe ES hosts career day, job fair

  • Park Ranger Cynthia Anderson talks to students at Kealakehe Elementary School's career day on Tuesday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Dr. Robert Jordan from Kona Veterinary Service talks to students at Kealakehe Elementary School's career day on Tuesday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Kealakehe Elementary School students learn Zumba with Renee Morinaka and Rhodlynn Watai at Tuesday's career day. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Sunshine Helicopters pilot Niels Christiansen talks to Kealakehe Elementary School students at career day on Tuesday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Kealakehe Elementary School students talk to fire rescue personnel at the school's career day on Tuesday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — Whether they want to take to the skies in a helicopter, join the ranks of the fire department or help heal the sick, students at Kealakehe Elementary School on Tuesday got the opportunity to explore the breadth of careers available in their community.

With tables set up not far from the Career Day offering present job opportunities for students’ parents and families, part of the goal for the day was to create a seamless connection between the school campus and the community in which it’s located.

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“Whatever is happening inside our school is reflected outside our school, and whatever is happening outside of our school is reflected inside our school,” said Pohai Kirkland, the school’s parent community network coordinator. “So we’re not separate.”

The school’s Career Day hosted more than 20 presenters for students, putting on display opportunities in everything from medicine to business to recreation and other local industries.

Koamalu Dehmer, 9, said he was excited about learning more about becoming a park ranger during the event.

“I think they show cool national parks,” he said. “And they’re all around the world.”

Sandra Mayberry, a gifted-and-talented teacher at the school, said it’s important to get kids exposed to careers, start thinking about their passions and interests and what jobs are out there that might align with those.

“I hope that it opens up their eyes to see that there is quite a few different jobs out there,” said Mayberry.

Throughout the event, about 345 students, mostly from third and fifth grades, meandered throughout the school’s cafeteria stopping at tables and interviewing the community’s professionals about their jobs and what it took to get there.

And for the island’s residents who came to share their stories and businesses with students, the event was an important one in which to participate.

Chris Grossi, who was representing Body Glove Hawaii along with Margie Park, said it’s important for them to let kids know about the fun careers that are out there and get them excited about the prospects that await them after school. And events like this, he said, are a great chance for kids to see opportunities they might never have considered before.

“I think it’s super important to let kids know that they don’t have to grow up to be president of the United States, to be an astronaut, to be a firefighter, which I think a lot of kids have these concepts of what they want to do, when really when we were in fourth, fifth and sixth grade, we didn’t know what we wanted to do,” said Grossi. “And I wouldn’t take back anything that’s happened to me between now and then. I love where am I now, and it’s nice to give kids a sense that they can have really interesting careers that they’ve never thought of before.”

Park echoed that point.

“I think it’s nice too for kids growing up on an island to know that there are local jobs that they can start and have growth with,” she said.

Mayberry said the number of businesses that took the time to speak with the school’s students demonstrates the interest the community takes in supporting its local youth.

“They’re education-based,” she said. “They understand the importance of educating our students with the possibilities of what their futures can be.”

Meanwhile, the school also hosted four presenters for a job fair that ran concurrent to the career day for students.

“Everyone’s looking for an opportunity,” said Chantel Maslanka, branch manager at Altres Staffing, one of the presenters at the job fair. “Whether they are currently working and they’re just looking for something different, or they’re not working and they’re looking for a chance opportunity, we just want to let everyone know that we’re here to help them if they’re looking for that.”

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Maslanka said hosting a job fair in conjunction with the career day offered a “win-win” for everyone who came out for the day.

“Because the children, they can get ideas now of what they want to be as they grow up,” she said. “And parents, if they’re looking, whether it’s a career change or just a job opportunity, we’re here to kind of help them, and either point them in a direction or offer them an opportunity.”

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