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Students explore career options

October 23, 1997

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Convincing an eighth-grader that being a mortician is a good career choice can be a tough sell.

"They've been approaching my area a little reluctantly," Anthony Bernardi said Thursday in a hangar at the 167th Airlift Wing. A funeral director and mortician at Brown Funeral Home in Martinsburg, Bernardi staffed one of about 50 booths at the Seventh Annual Career Fair.

"They don't really understand the whole process," he said between groups of eighth-graders. Nevertheless, a knot of students had earlier gathered around to hear him explain his work, including the facial splash guards and disposable protective suits morticians wear during an embalming.

The fair was sponsored by Berkeley County Schools, the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce and the Sunrise Rotary Club.

At the Greensburg Bed & Biscuit booth, Miss Lorraine got most of the attention.

"I think they're more interested in her than what I have to say," said Elizabeth Hostler, who owns the business and Miss Lorraine, a 21/2 -year-old mixed breed dog.

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Hostler told students that running a dog boarding service is a 365-day-a-year job.

"It's a really fun job, so even though you're working all the time, it's more like a way of life," said Hostler, a certified dog trainer.

"I like the business and marketing, the computer programming and stuff like that," said Michael Ware, a student at North Middle School. Fellow student Matt Roach agreed, adding that he found the Smith-Nadenbousch Insurance booth interesting.

Jamie Borger, a fourth-generation member of the agency her great-grandfather started, admitted "children don't have a sense that they want to grow up to be insurance agents."

At the same time, she was surprised that many had a good understanding of deductibles, premiums and other aspects of the business.

"I liked the police woman. She was pretty cool," said Jenny Sutherland of the Martinsburg City Police booth. Student Alicia VanMetre said she met a woman attorney she liked.

"It's tough to do a good presentation in five minutes," Cpl. Scott Wilson of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office said as students rotated from one booth to another. He spoke quickly during his presentation, explaining his duties, training, pay, benefits and the need to be educated.

He told one group the importance of maintaining control in a situation. Wilson then showed pictures of a 7-foot, 3-inch, 340-pound man he arrested for driving under the influence.

"Luckily, he was real nice. Drunk, but nice," Wilson said later.

Around him were the tools of his trade, from radios and billy clubs to body armor and firearms. He had also rolled a cruiser into the hangar.

Wilson said this was his sixth year at the fair and he was in a running competition with Scott Stroop of the Martinsburg Fire Department for the most impressive display. Stroop, standing next to a fire truck, gave him a wave.

Those who stopped at the Hagerstown Suns booth learned there's more to baseball than playing the game. Director of Broadcasting Dave Shinsky said he hoped to interest kids in office jobs, such as marketing, sales and public relations.

"Some people think you work five months a year. They don't realize it's year-round and when the team is in town you work 12- and 14-hour days," Shinsky said.

The 800 eighth-graders in the county came to the fair Wednesday and Thursday. Some, however, already had their minds made up.

"I want to be a nursing assistant," said Wendy Hayes, who plans to go to the James Rumsey Technical Institute after high school.

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