COLLINGDALE — With dreams of becoming everything from professional football and basketball players to authors, teachers, doctors, dancers, and entrepreneurs, students in grades one through eight, learned about a variety of jobs at the Third Annual Harris School Career Day recently.
The brainchild of Harris School counselor Tony Lorine, the Career Day started off as a career fair and then evolved into an entire day when students can dress up as the professional that they hope to be one day.
“No one loves on their kids as much as the staff in Southeast Delco School District. It really starts top down,” explained Lorine, with pride in his voice. “Our school board and central administrators try to support and encourage anything that will help the kids.”
Students, many armed with notebooks to jot down what they learned after interviewing career professionals, walked through the school gym where presenters were set up at various tables. Cindy Silverthorn, a certified professional scuba diver, let the students try on flippers while talking about a career in the deep. Firefighters from Collingdale Fire Company #1 offered students gear to try on, as they talked about firefighting careers. One of the very popular draws at the career fair was the Providence Animal Center with its live dog, “Glory,” a rescue dog that was adopted by the day’s end by one of the Harris School teachers who took notice of how gentle Glory was with children throughout the day as they treated the dog to repetitive belly rubs.
Providence Animal Center volunteer Joan Swirsky of Berwyn was impressed by the students’ maturity and curiosity.
“The kids asked very intelligent questions,” Swirsky shared. “We talked to lots of kids who were fond of animals and we told them how someday they may want to pursue careers as animal behavioralists or veterinarians.”
Throughout the day, presenter Robert McFee, of Uncanny!, a comic book, gaming, and pop culture store at King of Prussia Mall, was surrounded by students at his table.
“How many of you like to draw and like art?” McFee asked the students. Dozens of hands raised up. “So did I when I was your age and that’s when I began drawing comic book characters. Now, as an adult, I have a comic book store and I am still drawing. Find out what you love, what your passion is, and then follow that dream. When you become an adult, you want a job that will let you do whatever it is that you would do for free because you love it so much—whether it’s art, music, toys, animals—decide what you like and then don’t stop until you can do it every day and get paid for doing it.”
There were a variety of representatives of many careers at this year’s career day, including Colin Maguire, the general manager of the Collingdale Wawa, who brought a food spread to donate to the staff at Harris, and Dave Martin of Knowledge Points who donated 50 book bags to the school. Authors Phil Costa and Rob Curley talked about their book, “The Transition Playbook for Athletes: How Elite Athletes Win After Sports.” Not only young writers seemed interested in their book, but also students with dreams of becoming professional athletes.
Other presenters were Austill’s Educational Therapy Services, Collingdale Police, YMCA Of Ridley, Collingdale Public Library, the Delaware County Sunday & Daily Times and Town Talk Newspapers, Collingdale Athletic Association, Michael Rinaldi of the U.S. District Attorney’s Office, retired teacher Terry Axler, Steve Cross of the Horsham Clinic, financial planner Bill Arterouian, Edney Funeral Home and Nat Evans, a D.A. forensic investigator.
“In Pennsylvania, the schools are now required to expose students to career readiness through a comprehensive counseling program and district curriculum,” Lorine explained.
The counselor said Harris School principal Shawn McDougall and assistant principal Dan Ruane go out of their way to promote and encourage the annual career day. He stated that the Southeast Delco School District doesn’t have a lot of extra funds to implement a program like this, so they depend on the generosity of staff, school families and the community. “Unfortunately for us, we are a district that financially doesn’t have the extra resources,”
Lorine continued. “At Harris, we typically operate at 750-800 students to one counselor. For a district that struggles financially, the staff goes above and beyond to help students and we’re grateful to the presenters who volunteer their time and resources to make this special day a success.”