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Herkimer BOCES program introduces eighth-graders
to CTE courses, career opportunities

March 6, 2015

MaryBeth Napolitano talks to students during 8 to Great
MaryBeth Napolitano, School to Careers liaison and cosmetology instructor at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES, speaks to eighth-graders from Little Falls on Feb. 23 during the Journey from 8 to Great program. The Journey from 8 to Great introduces eighth-graders to career and technical education programs at Herkimer BOCES and encourages them to start thinking about their career paths. To learn more about Herkimer BOCES, attend the Open House from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11, at 352 Gros Blvd. in Herkimer.

HERKIMER – In eighth grade, Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Career and Technical Education Principal Kathy Fox didn’t know what she wanted to do for her career, and she would never have imagined herself as a principal talking to a large group of eighth-graders.

But that’s exactly what Fox was doing on Feb. 26 as eighth-graders from Frankfort-Schuyler and Richfield Springs visited Herkimer BOCES as part of the new Journey from 8 to Great program. The program introduces eighth-graders to the opportunities available for them in 11th and 12th grade at Herkimer BOCES and helps the students start thinking about what career path they might want to take.

“Today is about starting the conversation, and you start the conversation by looking at yourself,” Fox said, to the students. “What do you like to do?”

This is the second year of the Journey from 8 to Great, which is now being organized by the Herkimer BOCES School to Careers program. Thus far this school year, eighth-graders have visited from Central Valley, Little Falls, Frankfort-Schuyler and Richfield Springs. Visits are also scheduled in March for eighth-graders from Dolgeville, Herkimer, Owen D. Young and the Herkimer BOCES Pathways Academy at Remington.
In total this school year through the Journey from 8 to Great, more than 550 local eighth-graders will have been introduced to the Herkimer BOCES career and technical education programs and encouraged to start thinking about their careers.

One great aspect of 8 to Great is that students get to tour Herkimer BOCES and visit all 13 of the CTE courses offered, School to Careers liaison MaryBeth Napolitano said.

“I’m here to expose the students to career clusters and career opportunities within the region,” Napolitano said. “8 to Great exposes them to an educational opportunity that can help them connect to those careers.”

As the students are starting to plan out their high-school education with their home schools, it’s important that they also are introduced to other educational opportunities – through learning a trade in a CTE program that will benefit them post-graduation, Napolitano said.

“That skill, that trade, will stay with you for the rest of your life,” she said. “The secret’s out. CTE is the way of the future.”

During the Journey from 8 to Great, the students take part in various activities – such as:
  • Hearing from Napolitano, Fox and CTE Assistant Principal Ryan DeMars.
  • Viewing a video with Mike Rowe of the television show “Dirty Jobs” talking about alternative education.
  • Participating in a get-to-know-you activity where they fill in information about career clusters, hobbies, educational subjects and extracurricular activities they’re interested in and then finding students with similar interests.
  • Touring CTE programs with Herkimer BOCES senior students as their tour guides.
  • Writing down an idea they learned about during the day, a feeling they experienced and a step they will take as a follow-up.
The hope is that the day sparks student interest and starts conversations at home about their futures – whether that be through a BOCES program or another path, Napolitano said.

“This is all about exposure and exploring,” she said.

DeMars told the students he is someone who actually did know what he wanted to do when he was in eighth grade. He wanted to go into acting and making movies.

In 10th grade, his guidance counselor asked him what he would do if that plan didn’t work out, and he realized he had never thought about that. The guidance counselor introduced him to the Herkimer BOCES broadcast occupations program, which is now part of the visual communications media arts program.

Through Herkimer BOCES, DeMars was able to apply his interests and learn about a variety of aspects of broadcasting – such as being an on-air personality and doing production work. Because of that, he was able to get a job at a local television station after high school to help him with costs as he went through college.
“Take advantage of the opportunities you have,” DeMars said, to the students.

One way for students to start thinking about those opportunities is to consider what their interests are and how that could apply to their career, Fox said. For example, if they enjoy sports, maybe they would like a job where they can be part of a team or if they have fun four-wheeling and snowmobiling, maybe they would want a job where they work outside, she said.

“My hope is that they start the conversation with their parents, teachers or guidance counselors because these students are going into ninth grade and they’re coming up with their four-year plans,” Fox said. “It’s time to address these students at younger ages, so they start to think about how their interests can connect to both school and an enjoyable career.”

Anyone in the community interested in touring and learning more about the Herkimer BOCES CTE programs is welcome to visit the Herkimer BOCES Open House from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11, at 352 Gros Blvd. in Herkimer.

Additional photos:

MaryBeth Napolitano talks to eighth-graders

8 to Great tour in culinary

8 to Great tour in natural resource management

8 to Great tour in automotive technology

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