Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

Students step outside of the classroom and into real world
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Feb 6, 2013, 14:21

photo by Caitlin Davis Fire Marshal Matthew Flowers schools Minnay Adkins and Donald Witherspoon on the finer points of the fire pole during the Tuesday morning event that provided students a look at the world of work.

Students from Hopewell High School’s Future Business Leaders of America organization, or FBLA, put down their textbooks, pens and pencils and left their classrooms on Tuesday morning to visit local businesses and government offices, to experience the working world beyond the high school walls.

The day out on the town was organized by the FBLA, working in conjunction with the Hopewell Rotary Club, which counts many of the day’s mentors as members.

At the Hopewell fire department, students Donald Witherspoon and Minnay Adkins got a tour of the fire station from Fire Marshal Matthew Flowers. Their glimpse into the workings of the fire department included a look at the trucks, a staff introduction and even a brief demonstration of the iconic fire pole.

“I love it, I love it,” Flowers said of having the students with him Tuesday morning. “That’s our grassroots. I can’t think of anybody first that I would want to share my knowledge with than the young citizens of Hopewell.”
Flowers’ young shadow for the day was Adkins, who was taking notes, as Flowers made sure she understood the job of a fire marshal and the importance of fire safety.

“I will go home and check my smoke alarm will do,” Adkins said after hearing some of the information Flowers presented that morning. “And also, I will write down some of these important numbers that I need to know, especially with the fire department, and actually I will give my mom a little lecture.”

Witherspoon was at the fire department to shadow Fire Chief John Tunstall. As Witherspoon quizzed the Chief on the details of the fire department’s work, wanting to know the ins and outs of the job, since he may have an office in the building someday.

“I want to be a chemical engineer,” Witherspoon said. “I know they have chemical engineers that work for them, working with certain fire departments to see when you get evidence and how was the evidence cause for the fire.”
Tunstall noted that sharing the information is important for the future of the city.

“Anytime you can share something you know with future generations is always beneficial,” Tunstall said. “One thing that we can do is pass on the knowledge that we have. And that’s really what we’re here to do, is serve the citizens, and it really doesn’t matter who it is we’re serving. By serving the young adults we’re actually changing future generations.”
photo by Caitlin Davis After the morning job shadowing, students and Rotary Club members enjoyed lunch.

Katina Moss, FBLA advisor and Rotary Club member, wanted to bring back a day of job shadows like the one that existed nine years ago when she began teaching at Hopewell High School.

“‘We’ve got to get this going back again,’” Moss remembered thinking when she joined the Rotary Club last year. “So, I’m very excited that is has continued and that the Rotary was able to pick this back up, “It’s a wonderful endeavor.”

The students enjoyed a post shadow lunch at the Rotary Club meeting, where they shared their experiences and networked with community members.
Andy Clark, another Rotary member who played host on Tuesday, said the day gave him the opportunity to meet the city’s future leaders.

“We’ve got a great group of students here,” he said. “I feel comfortable that our future is going to be safe in their hands.”

Rotary President and Hopewell Redevelopment and Housing Authority executive director Steve Benham welcomed freshman Bonito Williams, junior Nathan Brown and senior Shalya Jasey to spend a few hours with public housing director Latasha Allen-Hyde.
photo by Caitlin Davis Nathan Brown and Bonito Williams meet with Steve Benham and Dan VanDoornik.

The students took notes on what would be a typical conference between Benham and Dan VanDoornik, director of finance, and learned how to fill our tax forms.

“I learned you have to be very efficient with your day schedule to actually direct big business like this, and you have to be very organized,” Williams said.

To expand and further the mission of the job shadowing day, the Rotary Club has established an Interact Club at the high School. Brown serves as the newly elected president of that club.

Benham said job shadowing opportunities provide young people with a broader vision and understanding of their community.

“We want to establish a relationship with the high school, so we can bring to bear whatever talents and resources the students have, so we can really enhance their ability to learn and become our future,” Benham said.

Speaking as president of the Rotary Club, Benham said that the club will continue to reach out to the youth of the community, as it has always strived to do.

“One of our areas of focus is youth, and so, from that perspective, we’re always going to be looking at programs that involve the youth, that allow the youth to interact with the various partners we have in the Rotary Club,” he said.

Students also shadowed Police Chief John Keohane, City Attorney David Fratarcangelo, school division superintendent Dr. John Fahey and staff from the Appomattox Regional Library, the Department of Social Services and the Hopewell City Regional Wastewater.

The Hopewell News and News~Patriot also hosted a student.
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Eboni Hill talks to News~Patriot and Hopewell News publisher, MIke Davis Tuesday.

Junior Eboni Hill, who is particularly interested in photo-journalism, spent Tuesday morning learning how a story makes it’s way from an event or conversation to the pages.

“It’s been a really good experience,” Hill said. “And what they showed me, it’s a lot of hard work and it looks like a lot of dedication and fast paced. It is just what I like.”

Hill, who said she wants to study photo-journalism at Chicago State, said she felt like she was leaving the office with a lot more knowledge about the newspaper business.
photo by Caitlin Davis Nathan Brown accepts his role as new Interact Club president at the Rotary lunch.

“Before I came here, I didn’t know a lot about what I wanted to do, but this really sets a ground where I can stand on,” Hill said.

Publisher Mike Davis was pleased to host Hill on Tuesday morning and to help provide her with that firm grounding.

“I think it’s always good to see a young person interested in journalism,” Davis said. “Since a lot of people don’t realize the hard work that goes into the newspaper, it’s great to be able to share the process with a person that could potentially become a writer for a particular market.”

As she looked around at the students at the luncheon, Moss declared the day a success, for students and professional mentors alike.

“I think it was an incredible success,” Moss said. “I think that the folks in the community, the Rotary, everyone, just worked together and made this opportunity for the students. They are excited. They loved it. They had so much fun. They are enthusiastic about having the opportunity to meet their community leaders, their business leaders and basically follow in their footsteps to keep Hopewell growing.”

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