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Jobs on the menu for New London high school students

New London — New London High School senior Tanairi Colon is working in retail at the Crystal Mall in Waterford but, with graduation around the corner, she is looking at options for the future. She’s considering Three Rivers Community College to get a start in the area of criminal justice.

Malayshia Brown, a 17-year-old junior, is the executive officer with the New London High School Navy Junior ROTC program and, while still considering her options after graduation, might be interested in a branch of the military.

The two students were among several hundred to gather on Friday for a career expo aimed at exposing students to careers and job training programs that might not require four-year college degrees. All students in the 10th through 12th grades attended.

Brown planned to peruse the tables spread out across the gymnasium that included representatives from each branch of the military. She also spoke with New London police Chief Brian Wright, whose department had several officers on hand.

There were also representatives from Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London, Mohegan Sun, Pfizer, Porter & Chester Institute in Stratford, Three Rivers Community College in Norwich and Ocean Beach Park in New London, among a host of others.

“I didn’t know half of this stuff was here,” said Neymari Lopez, a high school senior who plans on attending Three Rivers to pursue social work and has a job at the Groton senior center.

Electric Boat representatives Heather Lee and Willie Barber, for instance, explained to students that not only is Electric Boat hiring but there are options for free training available. The Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative Program sponsors a program run by Three Rivers at Ella Grasso Technical High School in Groton. With no prior experience necessary, individuals can find a path to some of the many job openings at EB.

June Dunn, the school district’s career and college pathways coordinator, said the district's mission is to provide a holistic education to all students, and career development is a big part of that.

“While preparing our students for higher education is certainly part of the mission, we are also intent on providing opportunities for those students who do not want to pursue a college degree to develop options,” Dunn said.

The career expo is one way to address the needs of that student demographic, she said.

Maureen Bransfield, the district's director of climate and culture, said the school district has sought to increase the number of students applying for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, since the funds can be used for training and certification programs and two-year colleges.

In conjunction with Friday’s career expo, there will be a construction fair on Saturday sponsored by the CT State Building Trades Council, T State Building Trades Training Institute and the Greater Hartford-New Britain Building and Construction Trades Council. The fair will promote jobs available at local construction projects.

Saturday’s event is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at New London High School and open to families, recent graduates and the general public. New London Public Schools and other employers will be present.

g.smith@theday.com

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