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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Nashua middle school students get a peek at future jobs during career day at Nashua Community College

Nashua Police Officer Kyle Crosson spoke to the cluster of hesitant eighth-graders standing next to his cruiser Wednesday in the rain.

“This is a police car,” Crosson said. “Check it out.” ...

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Nashua Police Officer Kyle Crosson spoke to the cluster of hesitant eighth-graders standing next to his cruiser Wednesday in the rain.

“This is a police car,” Crosson said. “Check it out.”

Several boys filed in the back seat, and Crosson closed the door behind them. Other students examined his riot gear in the trunk while Crosson began speaking about training opportunities with the department.

City eighth-graders attended “Destination … CAREER,” a career day at Nashua Community College presented by the Nashua Technology Center on Wednesday. NTC offers career and technical education programs at Nashua North and South for area high school students.

The community college gym and cafeteria were filled with students and career reps. Additional exhibitions were outside, including the police cruiser manned by Crosson, Nashua’s elementary and middle school resource officer.

“There’s a training academy at the police academy in Concord,” Crosson said to a group of Pennichuck students. “It will give you an idea of what police academy is like.”

The cadet academy runs June 21-27, he explained as he talked about the Nashua explorer program for students ages 14-20 who have completed eighth grade. The program teaches students about police procedures such as crime scene investigation and arrest and search protocol.

The Nashua Fire Department’s explorer program presented as well. They had fire prevention gear, helmets and an oxygen tank for students to try on and handle.

Most exhibits were hands-on and engaging. Nashua Bertucci’s general manager, Aggy Gukasyan, taught students to toss pizza with rubber training dough.

“We’re using practice dough; this is what we use for our new hires,” Gukasyan told a crowd of students.

Employees from Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse were stationed beside Bertucci’s teaching kids how to make guacamole.

This was Nashua Technology Center’s first foray into hosting a career day exploration of this caliber. The center’s staff invited local businesses and nonprofit organizations to showcase a variety of opportunities to the group of more than 800 students.

Career adviser Jennifer DiMaria was the big organizer behind the day.

“We did a pilot version of this at Pennichuck Middle School last year … sixth through eighth grade in one day. It was such a huge hit, we brought it to this level,” she said.

DiMaria said the idea is to bridge the gap between education, training and career. She said it’s common for students to consider CTE courses their sophomore year.

Pennichuck, Elm Street and Fairgounds middle schools took turns busing students to NCC to tour the exhibits.

The Humane Society of Greater Nashua paired with animal science students from Alvirne to talk about careers caring for animals. Alvirne High School senior Kyah Hardy is a part of the Alvirne vet science program, who’s heading to UNH this fall. She was armed with two unusually large rabbits.

“They were definitely interested – they asked a lot of questions,” Hardy said. She said the students came in with a broad range of interests, but were really engaged in the exhibit.

Local engineer Zach Watson was present to spread the word on his tutoring group, Project STEM Leaves.

“My goal is to take concepts they learn in school and apply them to life,” Watson said. He said a track student spoke with him that morning, and he suggested “tracking her statistics” to map her improvements in the sport. “That would be applying something from school to everyday life.”

DiMaria thanked the community college staff, particularly President Lucille Jordan, for supporting career day.

“She pretty much gave us the venue. She took busing off our hands, T-shirts, lanyards … I don’t know how we could have done this without donations.”

DiMaria said they’re hoping for continued support from the community for next year.

“This benefits everyone all around.”