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Students have a window to careers
A restored high school program will introduce students to real-world professionals to learn. A restored high school program will introduce students to real-world professionals to learn.
By EBONY WINDOM
Published June 30, 2007
WESLEY CHAPEL - A group of high school students had the chance to rub elbows with a forensic detective who visited their school last spring.
It seems the hit show CSI has sparked a new generation of wannabe forensic detectives, said Marcy Maxwell, a career specialist at Wesley Chapel High School where the meeting took place.
But when the investigator showed photos from a crime scene, the students squirmed in their seats.
"You saw a lot of deer-in-headlights looks, " said Maxwell, recalling that day.
And those weren't even the grisly photos.
The investigator told the kids about the daily grind as a forensic detective: gathering details to help piece together a scenario and how her work isn't always glamorous.
Youngsters can learn a great deal from the pros, Maxwell says.
That's why the school is restoring its Career and Academic Partners in Action or CAPA program for the start of the 2007-08 school year. CAPA is offered at many Pasco County high schools, but the Wesley Chapel branch had been inactive for a while.
"Any time we can offer students real-world experience, they are going to get an eye for what goes on daily instead of their perception of what they see on TV or read in a book, " Maxwell says.
Here's how CAPA works: school staffers compile a database of local businessmen and women to volunteer as mentors at career fairs and as guest speakers during the school year.
That way if one teacher wanted a doctor to come in and speak to a class, for example, the teacher would just look in the school's "business Rolodex" and find the name of a willing volunteer.
"I think there are a lot of careers that students would really like, but they've never been exposed to that career, " said Maxwell, whose job it is to help students explore career options.
CAPA offers kids a sneak peek at jobs that might interest them.
So far, the school has about 30 volunteers and would like to add at least two dozen more. There are cops, restaurant managers, doctors and travel agents signed on. Architects are in short supply, Maxwell pointed out.
Georgia Jacobelli, who works as an office manager at Heritage Bank in Wesley Chapel, is excited about helping out with CAPA "because I live and work in the community, " she said. "And (it's important) to help our children because they are our future."
In past years, the program has helped students walk right into entry-level positions. Others have landed after-school gigs too.
CAPA can help create "a better prepared workforce, " Maxwell said.
Learn about CAPA
To volunteer for the Wesley Chapel High School Career and Business Academic Partners, call Marcy Maxwell at (813) 794-8722 or e-mail her at email@example.com.