Shrewsbury High School holds career and trade fair

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Shrewsbury High School holds career and trade fair
Lauren Buckley talks to students during a career fair at Shrewsbury High School. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

SHREWSBURY – Students gathered in Shrewsbury High School last week to get a look at various trades or jobs they could pursue after high school.

The fair, which took place on April 14, was open to students from seventh grade to 11th grade who may be interested in an alternative to a four-year college.

“I think that students really need to see all different options post-secondary,” Director of School Counseling Angie Flynn said in an interview. “…The younger they start hearing the message, the better.”

“It’s all about exposure and hearing it before they’re a junior or senior in high school,” she continued.

‘We have been lacking in that area’

This is the first year that the high school has offered such a fair.

It sprung from thinking that School Counselor Jessica Rice did before the pandemic. At that time, she didn’t know exactly what such an event would look like, but Rice said she knew the school needed to highlight trade opportunities.

“We have been lacking in that area, and we need to let students know that this is here,” Rice said.

She said the school needed to inform students and their families that this kind of work is a “viable option for the future.”

After being approached by staff from Shrewsbury’s Colonial Fund about putting on an event, the school decided to hold a fair.

Rice said they made sure to highlight trade programs, community colleges and businesses where students could go straight to work after high school.

If students know their options, she said, that knowledge can help them make decisions within Shrewsbury High School, such as choosing elective classes and prioritizing which after school activities to participate in, Rice said.

Alumni share stories

There were several SHS alumni at the fair who Rice said have taken “nontraditional” routes after high school.

Among the alumni was Shrewsbury firefighter Rory Ahearn, who graduated in 2004.

After graduating, he initially went to Assumption College in Worcester.

“I went for political science. I had a little bit of interest in pre-law, but I basically went there to play baseball,” he explained. “…I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.”

He graduated and worked in a handful of different sales jobs. But Ahearn said it wasn’t for him.

Growing up, he wanted to be a police officer or firefighter.

So, he took the civil service exam necessary to become a firefighter and said he hasn’t looked back since.

Ahearn has been with the Shrewsbury Fire Department for the past 10 years.

“It’s a brother and sisterhood,” he said. “It’s like you have a second family now.”

‘College is not the only way’

Businesses attending Shrewsbury’s recent career fair included Starbucks, Saint Gobain, Salmon Health and Retirement, Mass Hire, Job Corps, the Peterson School, Universal Technical Institute, Quinsigamond Community College, Mass Bay Community College, Tech Learning Center, Porter and Chester Institute and Dynamy.

Reiterating the reasoning behind the career fair, Rice emphasized the diversity of post-secondary options for local students.

“College is not the only way for all students, and we want them to know we support all paths equally,” she said.

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