Students pledge to continue working on their career paths during Jefferson High School’s first annual Wildcat Career Pathway Showcase and Signing Day Friday. (DHI Media/Nancy Spencer)
Students pledge to continue working on their career paths during Jefferson High School’s first annual Wildcat Career Pathway Showcase and Signing Day Friday. (DHI Media/Nancy Spencer)
DELPHOS — Ninety-three freshmen were put in the hot seat during Jefferson High School’s Career Pathways Showcase and Signing program Friday. More than 70 principals, business and community leaders and post secondary leaders held mock interviews for the students.

The freshmen have been working on the lifestyle they’d like to have, what they want to be when they grow up, and if that chosen path can get them what they want. Financial literacy, career research, personal branding and resume building are just a few of tasks the class has completed so a far.

“We really start with self. Who am I, what do I want and how am I going to get it. It’s ‘know thyself’. The key component to success is that you have to know yourself,” Lisa Imel said during Friday’s program. “They are making a 10-year career and life plan. The teachers help guide them throughout this process and they use an online program and they form life goals and evaluate if the careers they are interested in will get them there.”

The students’ presenations on their chosen career path were on display during the interviews.

The Wildcat Career Pathways Initiative (students) and Wildcat University (community engagement) events are spearheaded by Imel. The district used a grant to hire Imel, president of the Cleveland-based EDSolutions Group, a consulting firm. She is working alongside administrators, teachers and students to close the gap between real-world experiences and the needs of the students and community.

The Career Pathways program started when the current freshmen were in eighth grade and this semester, a number of seniors will be invited to participate as well.

“This is a five-year initiative that allows freshmen to create a 10-year career plan,” Imel said. “There were some senior parents who expressed their desire for their children to create a 10-year plan so we are extending that to a number of them for the remainder of the school year.”

Superintendent Doug Westrick is impressed with the effort.

“It’s aleady planted the seed for these students. They’ve done the research and the homework on a career path they’re interested in as a 14- or 15-year-old, and they can continue to further develop that idea and those thought processes and even if they change their mind, they understand how to research a career and go about it in the right way. They’ve already lined up potential universities or where they need to go to get their skills so they can further that career and move along with that,” Westrick said.

Lillian Baughn and Levi Rode were the recipients of $300 scholarships. Imel said a third $300 scholarship will be presented at the end of the school year.