Career fair offers glimpse into world of options | Slideshow

When an event is brought back after a 15-year absence, a few quirks in the planning process are to be expected.

When an event is brought back after a 15-year absence, a few quirks in the planning process are to be expected.

So it could be understood that in the weeks leading up to the revived Career Fair at Coupeville High School/Middle School last Friday, some important figures in the community might have been inadvertently overlooked.

Even Coupeville Marshal Rick Norrie.

“One of the kids asked him (in the school cafeteria), ‘Are you coming to the career fair?’ ” said Leslie Improta, middle school counselor. “He said, ‘What career fair?’ ”

The innocent mistake could be laughed at later. Improta phoned Norrie, asked if he would attend and was pardoned for the oversight.

Other than that comical incident, Improta said Coupeville’s Career Fair was a rousing success.

Representatives from Whidbey Island businesses joined those from colleges and the armed services to offer nearly 500 high school and middle school students a glimpse at potential career paths.

The fair was held in the school’s commons area, where more than 50 careers were represented, including healthcare, technical trades, small business, parks and recreation, culinary arts, banking and law enforcement.

At one end of the room, Whidbey General Hospital surgeon John Hassapis demonstrated how to stitch up a wound using a grapefruit, while in another area, Mark Laska, owner of Coupeville’s Ciao restaurant, held a captive audience while talking about the restaurant business.

Deputy marshal Bo Miller also fielded questions, attending in place of Norrie, who had another commitment.

“They’re asking questions, which is good,” woodshop teacher Tom Eller said.

“I think it’s great,” said Jon Crimmins, area manager for Central Whidbey State Parks. “I’m pretty impressed with how many people are here.”

Friday was a half day for high schoolers and middle schoolers, devoted mostly to the career fair.

The idea to bring back the event was prompted by high school/middle school principal Larry Walsh, who asked new counselors Kate Anderson and Improta in the fall if it was something they thought they could tackle.

The counselors consulted with the Island County Economic Development Council, then forged ahead after they received a grant from the Coupeville Education Foundation.

Nearly all of the attendees, which included knowledgable community members with certain skills, represented Central Whidbey. Senior citizens from The Regency came to share their professional backgrounds.

One of the most popular participants brought a drone that hovered in the air.

Oak Harbor artist Kim Niles came to show her cartooning and creative marketing skills.

County commissioner Helen Price Johnson was on hand to talk about career paths offered by the county, which range from environmental health to public safety to construction.

“It’s a way to give back to your county and have a good career,” she said.

Price Johnson said showing students what’s available on Whidbey and in Island County is a good idea.

“It really raises awareness of the range of opportunities,” she said.

Improta said the idea behind the Career Fair was to spark interest in students and provide inspiration to work harder in the classroom to reach their goals.

The event also helped with more immediate goals regarding summer employment opportunities.

Improta said she and Anderson asked educators to email them all the jobs they held before they went into teaching. The counselors wrote all of the job titles on a large bulletin board that was on display for students to see.

“We wanted kids to learn that not everything is linear,” Improta said. “We might have gone to school to become a teacher, but we did all this before we got here.

“The whole purpose of a career fair, especially in middle schools, is exploratory. Kids were sitting down all morning and asking questions.”

Some of the senior citizens who attended stressed to students the importance of writing thank you notes, shaking hands and other pertinent job-seeking skills.

“People were already talking about next year,” Improta said.