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Career breakfast introduces students to future job opportunities

FORT KENT, Maine — More than 125 Valley Rivers Middle School students met with community employees representing a variety of occupations who volunteered to speak with the 7th and 8th graders during a Career Breakfast at the school on April 11.

The event introduced students to first-hand information about what it takes to prepare for and work in such industries as forestry, construction trades, law enforcement, social services, hospitality, health, education, business, arts and communications.

One of the volunteers, Attorney Toby Jandreau of Fort Kent, said the youngsters seemed genuinely interested and engaged in learning more about their potential career opportunities.

Jandreau said there is a shortage of attorneys and other professionals in the St. John Valley.

He encouraged students who might move away from the area after graduating from high school, whether it be to attend college or just to explore life outside northern Maine, to consider returning.

“There is a place for them in this community and they need to understand that they can come home,” Jandreau said.

Representing the law enforcement field at the event, Fort Kent Police Chief Tom Pelletier said, “It’s important that we provide our young people with some background in all of these occupations so they know what opportunities are out there.”

As far as the criminal justice profession is concerned, Pelletier said there is no shortage of job opportunities.

“There is and will always be a need for law enforcement officers, here and everywhere,” he said.

The Career Breakfast was co-sponsored by Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG), The GEAR UP grant program, and SAD 27.

“The main purpose of this event is to expose our middle school learners to a variety of career paths in the hopes they begin to think about their own interest and skills leading to the formulation of a post-secondary plan,” said Michelle Charnick, a JMG specialist/teacher for SAD 27.

The non-profit JMG works with more than 9,000 Maine students, helping them “transition from middle school through high school graduation, onto post-secondary education through degree attainment,” according to the organization’s website. “JMG increases high school graduation rates, college retention, and degree attainment. It prepares students for successful careers after graduation by helping them overcome academic, financial, and social barriers.”

This was the second inception of the biannual Career Breakfast which organizers plan to offer again for the next group of VRMS middle school students in 2021.

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