Windsor college/career fair gains good feedback

Published 9:19 am Saturday, February 24, 2024

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Junior and senior students at Windsor High School were recently exposed to a variety of options that they might be able to pursue after graduation. This exposure came at the Windsor High School College and Career Fair on Feb. 14.

The fair was held in the WHS gymnasium and featured more than 30 exhibits, including booths with representatives from colleges and universities, big and small businesses, the military, local government departments, emergency agencies and more.

Dr. Chelsea Kulp, who helped organize the event, said that 11th graders at WHS were given about 30 minutes to explore the fair and talk to representatives on hand, and the high school’s 12th graders were also given 30 minutes, “with some exceptions in different groups that we had in there too,” she added.

Kulp, who was just recently named principal of Smithfield Middle School, has been serving as an assistant principal at Windsor High School. Her final day at WHS was the day of the fair, and she said she felt great about how the college/career event went.

“We were really excited because a lot of the presenters were very complimentary of the students,” she said. “We ended up just doing 11th and 12th grade, and the participants all were very engaging. Both kids and presenters had some good feedback. 

“We did a survey for presenters afterwards and got some great feedback on that,” she continued. “One area is looking to continue to grow the college and university representation in future years, but other than that, really well received by everyone. 

“We were really excited to provide that opportunity to our students,” she added.

Explaining how the idea for the fair came about, she said, “It was something that we had really wanted to put together just to give our students. We have some really great (career and technical education) programs, but we had wanted to look at just giving the high schoolers some opportunities to look at different options outside of graduation. And so that was really kind of the origin of it was to expose them to different options that they might have when they were ready to leave us.”

Kulp said this was the first Windsor High School College and Career Fair, but her understanding was that the school had held at least a similar event in the past, though it had been some years ago.

The juniors and seniors of WHS were prepared for the fair by some of their teachers in the days leading up to it, as they were prompted to reflect on what their potential career paths might be.

“They had a packet where they could prepare questions,” Kulp said. “They, in advance, knew the schedule and knew who was going to be (at the fair), so the teachers showed the students the map and the list of presenters, and so that way the kids could go ahead and map out in advance which groups or colleges they wanted to definitely talk to, what questions they had.

“But then there also was some time included in there for them to just go otherwise and check out some groups they may not have had (noted),” she added.

She estimated the number of students who benefited from the fair to be around 250.

And when it came to the vendors, “we were really excited we did not have any no-shows,” she said.

Following were the fields of interest/career clusters represented at the fair, followed by a related business, organization or individual:

  • College/university: Virginia Wesleyan University, Christopher Newport University, Old Dominion University, Camp Community College and Regent University;
  • Agriculture: Hoober Inc. and Virginia Cooperative Extension;
  • Cosmetology: Creative Touch/Cosmo Field and Alluring Aesthetics by Amber;
  • Construction: MEB;
  • Construction/official: Building official for Surry and Sussex;
  • Finance: TowneBank
  • IT/Emergency Service: Isle of Wight
  • Law, Public Safety, corrections and security: Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office, Isle of Wight County Schools and Isle of Wight County Animal Services;
  • Manufacturing: Keurig Dr. Pepper and Stoneridge Graphics;
  • Media: WHRO;
  • Medical/senior care: Commonwealth Senior Living;
  • Medical: Tidewater Eye Centers and Bayview Physicians Group;
  • Military: Navy recruiter;
  • Pest removal: Riverside Pest Control;
  • Photography: Liz Hunt (self-employed);
  • Real estate/public office: Smithfield vice mayor;
  • Rescue: Isle of Wight Volunteer Rescue Squad;
  • Shipyard: Newport News Shipbuilding Apprentice School;
  • STEM: Canon Inc.;
  • Transportation: VDOT;
  • Uncategorized: Isle of Wight County Human Resources;
  • Utility and heavy construction: East Coast Infrastructure; and
  • Welding: Liebherr and Ashley Valve’s Virginia Beach Welding and Mechanical.

Kulp said she definitely thinks there are plans to hold more editions of the WHS College and Career Fair in the future.

“That definitely is my understanding, and that was one of the many reasons we wanted to capture participant feedback was for the purpose of looking into future years if there were ways to improve, to make it a better experience for everyone,” she said.

She noted that the inaugural fair was a team effort.

“We were so excited with how it came together,” she said. “We even had students who helped set up and take down for the event, which I just thought was so great, and everyone showed up who said that they were coming.”