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FORT CAMPBELL HIGH SCHOOL: Life after high school

College and Career Week helps students develop post-graduation plans

The Fort Campbell Courier
Fort Campbell | October 4, 2018

College and Career Week helps students develop post-graduation plans

Fort Campbell High School students learned about higher education opportunities afforded by the Army while doing physical training Monday with Soldiers from the U.S. Army Recruiting Office-Clarksville, Staff Sgt. Kristina Feller (far left) and Sgt. 1st Class Justin Painter (far right). During training, the recruiters matched each exercise with the first letter of an Army value. The group represented “loyalty” by doing lunges across the gym.

Chelsea Able, a recruiter from Cumberland University, speaks with two Fort Campbell High School juniors, Krystal Vargas (right) and Lauren Davis Monday during College and Career Week. Able encouraged students to fill out contact information cards so the school could send them information about admissions. Murray State University, Austin Peay State University and University of Kentucky also participated in the week of activities by sending representatives to speak with students.

During College and Career Week at Fort Campbell High School, Gene Zirkle, Fort Campbell Fish and Wildlife program manager, Environmental Division, Directorate of Public Works, speaks to a class Monday about bats and the integration of new technologies into the field of biology. College and Career Week is an opportunity for students to research and learn more about different career paths they can pursue after graduation.

Sergeant First Class Justin Painter, a recruiter, leads a class of Fort Campbell High School students in a hip stability drill Monday, while Staff Sgt. Kristina Feller (right), recruiter, demonstrates on the floor. Both recruiters from U.S. Army Recruiting Office-Clarksville, visited the school as part of College and Career Week, Monday-today. By joining the Army or Reserves, students can earn money to put toward a higher education, Feller said.

Fort Campbell High School students learned about careers, college applications and opportunities afforded by the Army during College and Career Week Monday-today.

More than 20 guests – speakers and recruiters – visited FCHS this week to help students develop a plan for their future. Representatives spoke to more than 90 classes during the week. Speakers from various organizations participated including: the Kentucky National Guard, the American Red Cross, Fort Campbell Public Works Environmental Division, Fort Campbell Parent to Parent, Austin Peay State University and Murray State University.

Wanda Marshall, FCHS junior guidance counselor, said this week of activities is a chance to start the conversation with students about life after high school.

“College and Career Week provides students an opportunity to explore various careers and colleges and to gain knowledge that will assist them in making decisions about their future careers,” Marshall said.

Duncan Greenwell, FCHS senior, said this week is one way to kick start students into thinking about their future.

“The school does this to get seniors up and out there to colleges and universities,” Greenwell said. “At FCHS we try to promote college, academic excellence and promotions through higher education.”

Guest speakers

During the week, classes focused on college- and career-oriented lessons. Students practiced filling out job and college applications, researched different careers and learned about transition portfolios. Seniors also took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and received help completing the free application for Federal Student Aid.

Stacy Daniels, FCHS guidance counselor, said College and Career Week intentionally coincided with FAFSA’s opening day, Monday. Daniels said the week is a chance to remind seniors now is the time to take applications, scholarships and deadlines seriously.

During the week, seniors were given the opportunity to apply to Austin Peay State University and Murray State University for free, that afforded them a savings of $25 and $40, respectively.

Grace Thompson, assistant director of admissions for recruiting at University of Kentucky, visited FCHS Monday to speak to seniors during a college prep class. Greenwell, who participated in the class, said it was helpful to speak with Thompson about admissions face-to-face.  

“Since the beginning of my senior year I have been applying, applying, applying. When I got to speak with [Thompson] one-on-one, it helped clarify some things I had questions about, even about colleges and universities other than UK that I am applying to,” he said.

Thompson’s seminar included information about in and out-of-state tuition, room and board and meal plans. She also discussed the more than 200 programs available at UK, ranging from biochemistry to nursing. UK also offers Army and Air Force ROTC programs.

Finally, she emphasized the importance of meeting deadlines when it comes to college admissions. Greenwell said this message stuck with him the most.

“It is very stressful through the college application process to get your paperwork in by deadline. [Thompson] said, ‘Everything has a deadline, but everything in life will pay off after that deadline.’ Which I thought was a really great quote,” he said.

Greenwell plans to apply for the Army ROTC Scholarship and attend one of the following schools: University of Kentucky, Austin Peay State University or University of Maine. While continuing his education, he intends to pursue a career as an officer in the Army.

Army options

In between listening to guest speakers in their classes, some students enjoyed participating in physical training with Army recruiters during physical education class. Sergeant First Class Justin Painter and Staff Sgt. Kristina Feller, recruiters from U.S. Army Recruiting Office-Clarksville, lead the physical training.

Clarksville’s recruiting office developed a strong relationship with FCHS last year by supporting them in many activities and programs, Feller said.

“The big focus is that not everyone is ready to go to college straight out of high school. I know I wasn’t,” Feller said. “We are here today to show the students there are other options out there for them.”

Feller joined the Army immediately after graduating from a high school in Las Vegas, Nevada. Although she was an active member in the school’s Air Force ROTC, she joined the Army because that was the only recruiter who visited her school.

“I jumped in feet first,” she said.

During physical training, Painter and Feller also talked to the students about the financial assistance they can receive by enlisting in the Army or Reserves.

“If you don’t have money for college, there are opportunities out there to assist you getting to college,” Feller said. “That was my main reason for joining the Army – free college money.”

Now, Feller has served 13 years in the Army and completed a bachelor of science degree in criminal psychology from Liberty University. She is continuing her education by pursuing a master of science in forensic psychology.

“We want these students to know about their options aside from college – there are tech schools, trade schools and other places where they can jump straight into a career,” Feller said.

Feller encourages all students to keep an open mind about their future.

“Sometimes what you really want might not be the right path for you. Always have a back-up plan,” she said.

The physical training was specially designed for College and Career Week. Each exercise highlighted an Army core value. Each group did lunges for loyalty, squats for selfless service and inchworm push-ups for integrity. They also ran relay races for respect and did dips for duty.

Gannon Shook, FCHS senior, said the training was enjoyable and well-structured, but not too challenging.

“I really like how they incorporated the Army leadership values into what we did as exercises. It was genius. I really hope they continue to bring that program to FCHS because it was really creative,” Shook said.

Shook enjoyed the training because it gave him a glimpse of what he might endure in the future. He plans to apply for the Army ROTC Scholarship for the University of Central Florida. After college graduation he plans to join the Army as an officer.

FCHS made a smart decision by welcoming recruiters into the school and allowing them to participate in the week of events, because so many military children pursue Army careers after graduation, Shook said.

College and Career Readiness Week is important to students, he said.

“Figuring out what you are going to do after graduation is one of the most important decisions to make as a high school senior,” Shook said. ‘Are you going to go to college or get a job? Are you going to go Army? If you pursue college, you are setting yourself up for a career and bigger dreams … bigger things to come in life.”

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