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Rowan-Salisbury high school students shadow local businesses

SALISBURY — Though Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow on Groundhog Day, local businesses embraced the shadow of more than a hundred juniors and seniors from Rowan-Salisbury Schools during the annual Groundhog Job Shadow Day on Wednesday.

Students experienced a day in the life of professionals from nearly 40 local businesses in an effort to provide students with a deeper understanding of their potential careers.

From 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., students shadowed professionals from places such as the Salisbury Police Department, Livingstone College Culinary department, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Health and Education Department and Animal Care Center of Salisbury.

After meeting at the Rowan County Courthouse Wednesday morning, some students dispersed to shadow city attorney Graham Corriher, attorney Cecil Whitley and Assistant District Attorney Clay Pittman. Whitley took his student to visit the county jail.

“I love that we were able to show the students careers that are needed and necessary throughout Rowan and allow them to ask the journey everyone took to get there,” said Nanette Dillon, the program director for Rowan County Teen Court.

At the RCCC Health and Education Department, nearly a dozen students learned from occupational therapy assistant Amy Mehle about how to treat stroke victims and help them get back to performing daily tasks. To demonstrate, Mehle challenged students to transfer a bowl of dry macaroni noodles to a cup using a variety of altered spoons. Students were also challenged with specialty bowls and devices that hindered wrist movement to mimic the struggles stroke victims undergo when re-learning how to use utensils when eating.

“The students were exposed to careers they had not heard of or ones they didn’t know much about,” Mehle said, adding that the group was one of the most engaged and attentive groups she had given such presentations to.

Learning more about occupational therapy reaffirmed West Rowan High School student Jenna Fox’s desire to go into nursing. Fox said she also learned more about the cost of going into the field at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

Mehle said part of the experience was spent explaining how the program at RCCC works and how a career in the medical field doesn’t always require going to an expensive university.

Fellow West Rowan High School student Sydney Swing and North Rowan High student Makiya McDaniel, who both desire careers in natal and pediatric care, respectively, said they enjoyed learning more about the profession and how college works.

At Livingstone College’s Culinary department, East Rowan High School student Haley Overcash kicked off the morning making chocolate chip muffins with Chef Maria Marquez. Overcash, who enjoys baking and pastries, said she learned more about the “muffin mixing method.”

Overcash also learned how to make various flower structures out of root vegetables like turnips and carrots. The sculpted veggies will be used to decorate the tables for a lunch the college is hosting on Thursday.

And though Overcash said she has been keeping her options open for where to study a career in the culinary field, her time spent with Chef Marquez moved the possibility of Livingstone College “up the list.”

Holly Pore, director of Career and Technical Education for Rowan-Salisbury Schools, said the experience was intended to either reaffirm or change students’ minds about what direction they are considering for future careers. Regardless, Pore said she hopes the experience is fun nonetheless.

The Groundhog Job Shadow event was a partnership between the Rowan Chamber of Commerce’s Workforce Development and the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Career and Technical Education.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at (704) 797-4246.

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