SOUTH KITSAP — Gotta love those junior high kids, so fluid, like mercury, they could flow any which way.
I was once in junior high, hated it. High school was much better. In the midst of boomer-dom, nearly 57, I’m quite content.
Four years ago, I was invited to the annual Marcus Whitman Junior High School Career Fair to be a “presenter” on the joys and demands of journalism. They’ve asked me back each year, and I say, “yes,” because I really do love junior high kids. Blank slates, with baggage. Spontaneous, self-conscious, wise beyond their years. Funny. Endearing.
The fair was Tuesday. I distributed advice — this is one thing I love about being old — and 30 or 40 Kitsap Sun pencils. We used to hand out refrigerator magnets, but times being what they are … The pencils were a hit. I noticed, however, that the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s table had candy scattered all over it. Drew quite a crowd. Next year, Butterfingers, for sure.
The students were asked to fill out a card with stickers showing
the different tables they had visited. There were many
representatives of potential career paths to choose from:
veterinarians, beauticians, an airplane mechanic (also a popular
stop), restaurateurs, a dance instructor who is now teaching the
children of children she had when she started her independent
business at 15. That would be Tanya Bleil-Johnson of Just for Kicks School of Dance in Port
Orchard (in photo).
A cartoonist lamented the slow demise of print media and stressed the need to “reinvent” himself. Welcome to my world, except the Kitsap Sun, while expanding its web product, continues to print the daily edition. I get to listen to the comforting sound of the presses cranking to life each afternoon. The earthquake-like thunk of rolls of newsprint on the loading dock. One student told me that while her peers get most of their news — if they bother to look at the news — online, she still loves the feel, sound and smell of the newspaper. Gotta love that.
I also got a kick out of another student, a guy, who is set on becoming a Navy SEAL. The elite commandos have been getting a lot of press, what with the killing of Osama bin Laden and the recent rescue of aid workers in Somalia. But this young man had held his goal since since he was a child. I have no doubt he’ll measure up and serve his country proud. He may have to ditch the ear plugs somewhere along the line, however.
Cruising around in between groups of students, I spoke with Sue
Kunkel, a CAT scan technologist representing
St. Francis Hospital (in photo). Radiology is so much more than
X-rays, Kunkel said. There are sonograms, utrasound, nuclear
medicine. This reminded me that, had I not become a journalist, I
might have gone into the medical field. You see the connection,
I once thought of going into nursing. For a time, during and shortly after college, I worked in long-term care, with the elderly. Later, when the terms “journalism” and “pessimism” seemed to go hand in hand, I seriously considered retraining as an X-ray tech or other imaging specialist. If I had it to do all over, I’d probably gravitate to the field of public utilities and water quality.
Which brings me to the question ‘o the day: What career paths did you consider but not take? What about your career path do you wish you had known when you were in junior high school? What advice would you give yourself as a junior high student about career choices?
Thanks. Look forward to hearing your responses.
Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun reporter