MATTOON -- Students at Mattoon High School learned about career and educational opportunities during a new Futures Day event on Thursday at their campus.
Principal Rich Stuart said a total of 84 businesses and other presenters signed up to give information to students during this inaugural event, which was part of a week-long series of MHS homecoming activities.
"Every nook and cranny of the school, we have saturated with presenters," Stuart said. Guidance counselors Deanna Dalby and Krista Jackley helped recruit these presenters after MHS students were surveyed last spring about their interests in careers.
MHS junior Tinley Risinger said she appreciated that the presentations she heard were focused on "broadening horizons" for students and answering their questions about career options, not just recruiting them.
Risinger said she is interested in working in a medical or other science-related career, so she attended presentations in these fields at Futures Day. Risinger said she particularly enjoyed the veterinary medicine talk because the presenters shared a lot of good "behind the scenes" information and were passionate about their work.
"I was impressed by how much they actually care about the animals. It's not just a job to them," Risinger said.
MHS junior Anna Morton said she attended presentations related to her interests in either becoming a nurse or an elementary school teacher. Morton said she also enjoyed sitting in on talks about volunteer opportunities at the Douglas-Hart Nature Center and about preparing for life after high school.
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During the latter talk about budgeting and other aspects of "adult living," Morton said she was surprised to hear that food for a two-person household costs an average of $385 per month.
"The talk made me aware of the things you don't think about that you have to pay for," Morton said.
Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center Surgery Center Manager Kacie Richey led a presentation about the team of more than half a dozen medical professionals involved in each surgical procedure, ranging from anesthesiologists to operating room assistants.
"We could not do what we do without each other," Richey said, adding that they are all focused on advocating for their patients during this vulnerable time in their lives. "Patients do really entrust us with their care."
Lake Land College academic counselor and student accommodations coordinator Andy Gaines said he spoke to students about preparing for college in general and about how to plan for handling any special needs they might have.
For example, Gaines said a student with anxiety disorder might not have any major issues in the comfort of their hometown high school but could have trouble in a larger, unfamiliar college setting. He said Lake Land can help students in this situation in a variety of ways, such as arranging for them to take tests in a more private setting instead of a crowded classroom.
Gaines said the Futures Day was a great event for bringing high school students together with a wide variety of presenters in one place.
"I think that bringing the presenters to the students is a great idea because you can always reach everyone that way," Gaines said.
Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @TheRobStroud