CMS career day helps boys explore futures |

CMS career day helps boys explore futures

Brenden Spencer, 14, wants to be a professional hockey player.

But after seeing a video of blasting at Trapper Mine, Spencer said he might be changing his mind.

He thinks Trapper could be a good backup plan. The excitement of the explosions didn’t do much to deter him from that idea.

Spencer and the rest of the Craig Middle School eighth-grade boys explored several different opportunities that could await them in the future during the boys’ career day Thursday at CMS.

Opportunities presented to them included firefighting, police work, nursing, emergency medical services, and power plant technology.

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Career day began with a speech from Gene Bilodeau, vice president of administration at Colorado Northwestern Community College, who talked about the importance of staying in school.

After students heard presentations about the various career paths from several CNCC professors and other community members, they were sent to either the Xcel power plant in Hayden or Trapper Mine for onsite tours.

Junior Gonzalez, 14, who attended the tour of the Hayden power plant, said touring the plant was a good way to spend the day.

Gonzalez was so impressed by the technology at the power plant, he said he changed his mind from being a police officer to working at the plant.

He also said the event helped him understand the importance of thinking about a career.

Spencer agreed, adding that considering careers now can “help you plan for later in life.”

The boys’ career day started about six years ago after CMS eighth-grade teachers realized the boys didn’t have an event similar to the Girls to Women career seminar.

“We decided … that it was silly for us to neglect the boys,” said Ann Charchalis, Craig Middle School eighth-grade math teacher. “We needed to help them to see what opportunities were there and what benefits there are for furthering their education.”

The career fair, she said, was designed to plant a seed with the boys to encourage them to think about the future.

“That is all we are hoping for, really,” she said.

Charchalis said career paths for boys are somewhat limited in rural areas.

“A lot of our guys think that they are just going to go work at the mine and they don’t have to worry about a lot of things in education,” she said. “But the fact is that they have to pass foreman tests and they have to pass a test before they even get hired at the power plant.”

But, the career day also encouraged the boys to be open to change when it comes to choosing a career.

“The mine jobs may be limited in the future,” Charchalis said. “Things are changing so these kids have to be willing to change with where the jobs are in the future.”

But, exploring is a good first step for the soon-to-enter-high school boys, she said.

“Everybody changes their mind,” she said. “We all have to do that exploring and we learn as we do that exploring, anyway. I’m not saying they are going to be an environmental engineer at Trapper, but maybe through that they will find something that is their right spot.”

For Bilodeau, the possibility of changing a few minds about the importance of school is worth the time to talk to the kids.

He contends if kids find a career path that interests them, they are more likely to stay in school.

“One of the things we know is that we have a tremendous population in Colorado that drops out of high school, or they get out of high school and they don’t go any farther,” he said. “That hampers them in life as far as finding gainful and meaningful employment and it certainly impacts their quality of life.”

Brian Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or

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