Alumni return to Shrewsbury High School for career fair

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Alumni return to Shrewsbury High School for career fair
Shrewsbury High School held its career fair last month. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

SHREWSBURY – Hundreds of Shrewsbury High School students descended upon the Largess Commons on Feb. 7 to find businesses, trade schools, military branches and alumni eager to connect with them.

The SHS Career Fair welcomed representatives from over 30 organizations and had over 300 junior and senior students registered to attend. 

“I think it was interesting. It’s a great opportunity for students to figure out what they may want to do in life, and I think it’s wonderful that schools are now advocating that there are other opportunities aside from college,” SHS junior Maddie Harper told the Community Advocate.

Career Fair success stories

The Career Fair was the latest initiative by the SHS School Counseling Staff and the Shrewsbury High School Alumni Association to increase access to information about careers, jobs, trades, and opportunities that are alternatives to attending a four-year college.

SHS offers internship and job-shadowing programs and held its first Career and Trade Fair last April

“I think it’s great we are able to ask questions directly to people who are experienced and have been in these fields for a while,” SHS junior Siri Ural said.

According to school staff, the goal of this year’s fair was to increase students’ access to information about different career paths. 

“I hope that [the Career Fair] sparks something in students to want to investigate something further,” school counselor and 1998 SHS alumna Jessica Rice said, “I hope that students stop and think ‘Huh! That could be me!’”

Principal Todd Bazydlo largely agreed with Rice. 

“[I hope students gain] a greater appreciation for the work going on in our community, and also I hope we really arm them with information. Hopefully they leave here curious… and maybe get some leads for a summer experience, an internship, or a job,” he said. 

The event has already led to numerous success stories. 

Senior Luiza Saldanha, who got her start at Shrewsbury Federal Credit Union through SHS’s job-shadowing program, advertised the credit union to many of her classmates at the Career Fair.

“I went in, job-shadowed, brought my notepad, and took notes on all the different roles. I really enjoyed it… and I got hired there and I’ve been working since,” Saldanha said. 

“I love it. It’s honestly the best place,” she added. 

Over 30 organizations piqued students’ interest by handing out candy, lip balm, tote bags, baseball hats, and other items. Students left the fair with handfuls of brochures and flyers. 

Alyson Avoglia, a representative from Oxford-based trade school Technology Learning Center, said she hoped students “learn that there are a lot of options available for them after high school – not just the traditional college – but there is training in the trades as well.” 

Businesses ranged from SALMON Health and Retirement to the Worcester Red Sox.

Several trade and military opportunities were also represented, including the Massachusetts Air National Guard and the Massachusetts Army National Guard.

Alumni Return to SHS

The Career Fair also saw the return of several alumni who wanted to share their experiences with students. 

Ron Whittle, a 1966 SHS alumnus, served in the Vietnam War and had a role in the rescue and recovery of the Apollo 13 astronauts. Whittle now writes poetry and travels throughout the Northeast for speaking engagements. 

Whittle told the Community Advocate that he “wanted to tell the kids [to] not let anything hold them back,” adding that he chose to come back to SHS to express his gratitude for the school. 

“I wanted to thank everybody for giving me an education I didn’t even know I was getting,” Whittle said. 

Tony Ngo, a 2000 SHS alumnus who represented Lofty Homes at the Career Fair, said that “Shrewsbury High School was a pretty big part of [his] youth.”

“I didn’t know it at the time, but it created an environment where I could learn and grow,” he noted.

Both Rice and Bazydlo complimented SHS’s alumni network.

“We have a great alumni network. Their formative years happened here… there’s a lot of pride with that. That’s one of the best things about our graduates; they never forget where they started and they are always looking to give back,” Bazydlo said.

“Where your roots are has meaning for you. For some people, it’s natural to want to give back,” Rice added.

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