Middle School Career Fair Shows Students Job Paths

Eighth-grader Sergio Aragon experiences hair-raising static from a Van de Graaff generator.

On Friday, March 7, Clarion-Goldfield Middle School hosted a career fair, in which students spoke with around 30 area professionals in a variety of fields.

“We wanted to show the students how you can be from a small town and still do exciting things,” said teacher Margaret Askelson, who coordinated the day-long event. “We talk with the students about establishing goals that you’re reaching toward, to establish what you want to do in life and how to get there.”

The speakers included a veterinarian, a diesel mechanic, bilingual enrollment advisor, cardiopulmonary nurse, radiological specialist, architect, traveling/neonatal nurse, and conservationist.  They described what their jobs involve, and how their (sometimes winding) career paths led them there.

 “If you want to be a business owner, you better be able to sell,” local accountant Bruce Frink told his session. “The only thing I’ve got to sell is up here – in my brain. I sell people on the idea that I’m going to save them money.”

The event’s keynote speaker was pilot Alan McHale, a 1979 graduate of what was then named Clarion High School. McHale earned his pilot’s license in 1982 and has since worked in aviation as a pilot and educator. He is currently a pilot with Sun Country airlines, where he has worked for most of his career. “I got my license just for some fun weekend flying,” McHale said of how he started. After he graduated from CHS, McHale had initially gone into agribusiness before a chance comment at a flight exam steered him toward an Iowa Central Community College program that trained him to fly professionally.

McHale also described the events that led him to report would-be 9/11 hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui to the FBI, leading to Moussaoui’s arrest before he could participate in the terrorist attacks.  McHale had been working at a Pan-Am Flight school, where he helped arrange a class for Moussaoui, who had identified himself as a businessman who wished to learn to fly large aircraft. McHale grew suspicious of Moussaoui for reasons that included the latter’s lack of prior flight experience, not owning a credit card, and having asked another flight instructor about turning off cabin oxygen mid-flight. The students were particularly interested in McHale’s experience with air marshals. 

Read more about the Career Fair, CG Elementary’s Dr. Seuss week, and the school boards’ meetings in the March 13 Monitor!