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Corvallis American Legion connected Corvallis High School students with business professionals to explore career options and paths on Wednesday. Over 200 students learned about career fields, how to get in and why hard work makes a difference.

Ike Slaughter, American Legion member, served as coordinator and emcee for the day. The organization has conducted three years of career days at Corvallis and is planning a focus on careers of armed services and first responders in November.

Slaughter said the American Legion would like to grow their membership and offers scholarships for the children of Corvallis American Legion members.

“The American Legion is critical on the national level of taking care of our veterans, whether it is VA care, retirement or just keeping our military strong,” he said. “We are involved and the community’s participating is critical. American Legion Posts are centered around a high school and we are responsible to the country for looking after people to make sure they know about the spirit of patriotism in our country and the spirit of military.”

Slaughter said a key point of career day is to make sure students understand the need for a good work ethic.

“We attempt to do in structuring this is these are the jobs, this is the pay, this is the work, this is where you get trained,” he said. “We will have colleges, job corps and military presentations as well.”

He told the students that high school helps them to “learn how to learn.”

“That is an important skill for you to acquire,” he said. “Learning is what it is all about. Find a profession, skill or trade that you like. It is helpful for you to have joy in your job. Investigate and be on the search.”

Presenters on Wednesday included Jennifer Gaston-Smith, CHS Counselor; Ronnie Bumgarner, Bitterroot School of Cosmetology; Maureen Griffith-Whelan, Meadowlark Massage Therapy; Amber Polkowski, The Living Centre; Sean Twardoski, Respiratory Therapist, Marcus Daily Memorial Hospital; Michelle Adams, Medical Laboratory Technician, Marcus Daily Memorial Hospital; Jackee Smith, Veterinarian Technician, Tammany Veterinary Hospital; Kathy Love, Dental Hygienist, Carl Shepp Dentistry; Renee Christensen, Medical Office Management and Records, Active Care Chiropractic; Richard Whitmore, Admissions Counselor, Trapper Creek Job Corp; Army Recruiters Ssg. Morciglio and Sfc. Robert Forester; Major Tracy Mitchell, University of Montana ROTC; and Jamie Williams, owner and manager of A2Z Personnel.

American Legion member Allen Bjergo talked with students about the history of the American Legion that began 100 years ago and the many programs they sponsor including career days, assemblies on American flag etiquette and retiring ceremonies, Memorial Day parade, Girls and Boys State, the oratorical Speech contest and scholarships. Corvallis American Legion Post 91 has 170 members and continues to grow.

CHS Counselor Jennifer Gaston-Smith said the Career Day was an “invaluable opportunity.”

“It helps students realize all professions are obtainable with hard work, dedication, commitment and the right educational path,” she said. “It is a win/win for professionals in the field to share their journey, promote their occupation and meet potential employees.”

She said that connecting students with seasoned professionals and allowing them to ask questions about the day-to-day demands, education requirements, job market and pay was perfect.

“For any student undecided on their journey beyond high school, it enables them to look outside the box of a four–year degree at meaningful positions that can help prepare them for bigger opportunities and help pay for an associates, bachelors and advance degrees,” Gaston–Smith said.

Corvallis High School senior Aurora Reeseman said the career session by the American Legion was “phenomenal.”

“I learned so much from all the different speakers and now I have a career path for myself,” she said. “Everyone was very helpful career–wise and the vet tech made me think about that career. I think I may join the military, the recruiters were really nice, being in the military would pay for my college and I would have a job right away.”

Reeseman said she is also considering taking engineering at Montana State University in Bozeman.

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