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Students dig into job shadow day

by Merrie Leininger

Some Douglas High School students got out of the classroom and into the office last week.

Students said they learned a lot from their experiences during Shadowing Day held on Groundhog Day, Friday, Feb. 2.

Damasa Leonis, a DHS senior, spent the morning with Kellie O’Donnell in the state Department of Arts. Although she wants to be a teacher, Damasa said she got a valuable lesson from her time in the arts department.

“It gave me insight into what I could do in my class. They told me facts like students’ GPA is higher when there is art and music in the classroom,” she said.

Damasa said it was also interesting to learn about the program, which provides funding for artists and supports community arts programs.

“All the ladies were so intelligent and have a real burning passion to help others do what they love,” she said.

Damasa said it was a test for her, because she has planned to be a teacher since she was very young.

“I’ve related my whole education to being a teacher. I’ve volunteered and taken all the classes. I don’t want to be one of those students who goes to college and changes her major a million times. It was good to be there and get a feel for a different job,” Damasa said.

Senior Katie Green spent the morning with George Pyne, who works in the public employees retirement office. Katie also wants to be a teacher.

“It’s not exactly my field, but it was a really good experience to see what goes on in the financial world,” Katie said.

Because she wants to be a math teacher, she enjoyed seeing math applied in the real world.

“It was good just getting out there in the workplace and seeing things you may not think of and see what a typical day is like,” Katie said. “Also, I love to help out people and every single person in that office loves to help out people. They said they love their job because most of the time, they are working with really happy people.”

Senior Lauren Hayes is one of the few students who was matched with a state official in the field she hopes to work in. She spent the morning with Jack McLaughlin, Department of Education superintendent.

“It was only his second day on the job, so he wasn’t even sure what his job was. But it was interesting. He was really open to suggestions about what he could do to help Nevada. We talked about if the proficiency tests are worthwhile and I sat in on a meeting where they talked about legislative bills about charter schools,” Lauren said.

Matthew Wilcks, a senior, spent time with Warden Robin Bates of the Department of Prisons.

Matthew said he has plans to become a firefighter or paramedic, but he learned a lot during shadowing day.

“I figured it would be a good one to shadow. There are a lot of different jobs in the prisons. You can do anything you want. They have doctors, dentists, firefighters, teachers. It was really neat. I got to go into the cells and walked through the little yard,” Matthew said.

School-to-careers coordinator Tricia Wentz said 14 DHS and Whittell High School students participated in Shadowing Day.

Students were selected by teachers and Wentz based on leadership abilities and plans for the future.

“I went to different teachers and some of the students I just knew would get something out of it. Like Samantha Goldstein – I knew she was really into agriculture and on the debate team and interested in politics, so I matched her with Secretary of State Dean Heller,” Wentz said.

She said about 150 elementary students also learned about careers that day when their parents took them to work.

“We got a great response from businesses. Some did formalized programs for the kids. It happened to be a day off for the elementary students because of parent-teacher conference day,” Wentz said. “The biggest response was from Jacks Valley Elementary School, which had about 60 kids go to work with their parents.”