By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
It’s all about choices, as several of the career presenters pointed out to the groups of students – not only the career path the students will decide upon in the years ahead, but also the choices they make today while they are young, that will prepare them for those future decisions.
Lt. Ramon Dansey, Officer Patricia Hall and Officer Amanda Smith of the Madison Correctional Institute brought a scale model of the MCI facility to show the children how the prison was laid out and explain the purposes the various buildings served as they described their various jobs at the prison.
In answer to one student’s query about what makes a person choose to “be bad” and end up in prison, Smith replied that often the person does not have an education, and thus lacks the ability and/or good judgment to make wise choices. Dansey, a 17-year veteran with MCI, added that anyone who had ever been in a prison could never work in a prison, one example of how one bad decision in the present could limit choices in the future.
Ralph Campbell, of the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Division of the Police Department, had the students don a pair of “drunk-vision” goggles and try simple things like catching a ball or walking in a straight line while their eyesight was blurred and impaired.
“Now imagine trying to drive a car like that,” he said, adding that alcohol and drugs could also affect their still-growing bodies in ways that could harm their health years into the future. He also spoke about some of the responsibilities of police and ATF officers in general, and even had one of the children, Devonte Collins, try on the bulletproof Kevlar vest and several other pieces of a police/ATF officer uniform.
Vernon Reddick, retired Senior Master Sergeant, Air Force, talked about learning how to stay on task and stay focused as he described a career in the military.
Jerome Wyche talked about the county’s recycling program and Rusty Smith was on hand to represent Tri-County Electric.
Several emergency service careers were represented in front of the school where Chief Fire Inspector Juan Williams waited beside Madison’s aerial ladder truck and talked to the children about fire safety and what a firefighter’s job was like, while Tinarius Irvin and Mica Taylor represented Madison’ Emergency Medical Service with one of the county’s ambulances; additionally, Chief Clay Phillips represented Brooks County Firefighters.
Shane Wells, Ryan Rowland and Chris Norris were on hand to represent the Florida Forest Service; Alan Huff and Clay Whigham had brought out their airboat for their presentation.
Careers all across to the board were represented, from politics (Renetta Parrish, Tim Sanders) to banking (Willy Gamalero, Renae Wills) to medicine (Dr. Chester Aikins) to law enforcement (Tina DeMotsis) to restaurant management (Will Milton of the Ruby Tuesday restaurant), to name just a few.
It was an enormous undertaking, said Kay Williams, of the MCCS staff, to plan something on such a large scale that involved so many people, but many of the faculty and staff believe it is important to give the students a glimpse of some of the possibilities out there, and give them time to prepare by staying on course and staying in school, things that will help when the time comes to make a choice. If they can see the possibilities in the future, they can see the reasons for wise choices in the present.
Besides, as several students remarked, Career Day was “really fun.” Seeing the new aerial ladder truck, or an ambulance or an airboat up close was a treat for the day, no matter what they may eventually decide to do. But, when they do make that decision, things like career days will have given them a little more information, a little more knowledge, to help them on their way.