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Fair shows students future options

November 11, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Some students attending a college and employment fair at South Hagerstown High School said they believe they are better prepared for life after high school graduation because of the event.

Tri-state area teenagers and parents flocked to the high school by the hundreds Monday for the Choices in Colleges & Careers 2003 program, now in its fourth year. More than 150 colleges and employers were on hand in the school's gym, cafeteria and hallways.

Most students interviewed said they were attending to find a college and were surprised by how many were represented at Monday's event.

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"There's a lot (of colleges) I didn't even know were out there," said Amber Shirley, a Clear Spring High School junior interested in studying nursing.

Brittany Strite, a Boonsboro High School senior attending with classmate Kara Wastler, said she attended to get more information on schools in which she was interested, but found there were many more options to consider.

"We're learning about other colleges that we hadn't heard about before," Strite said.

South Hagerstown High School juniors Carrie Borne and Elizabeth Hill said they were window shopping for the right school. Both said they feel better prepared to search for and choose a college because of the event.

"There's a lot more out there than community college, a lot more choices," Borne said.

Several businesses were on hand to promote employment in the Washington County region and to show what local businesses have to offer.

"It's good exposure, though we don't get immediate results," said Mike Talhelm, director of human resources for Antietam Health Services, which operates Washington County Hospital.

Kimberly J. Wines, of the accounting and consultant firm Smith Elliott Kearns & Co. LLC, said events like Monday's help the company remain on students' minds during their schooling.

"That's where we get the largest number of hires - hometown kids," Wines said. "They go away, keep in touch and when they come back to the area, that's when we hear from them."

Cassandra Latimer, a marketing specialist with the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, said event organizers also were offering scholarships based on the event. The five schools with the highest percentage of students attending are to each receive a $500 scholarship for one student, and students can garner tuition money directly through an essay contest that will award a total of $1,000 to three students, Latimer said.

Latimer said one of the reasons for the event is to get youths to pursue careers close to their hometowns.

"We want them to learn about jobs in the county and talk to employers about what education they will need," Latimer said. "We'd like for them to come back and be employed here in Washington County."

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