Most kids in the eighth grade don’t really know what the future holds for them once they finish high school. They seldom have access to resources and venues that show them different paths and career opportunities. But Snowshoe Mountain Resort, the Pocahontas County Board of Education and the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau have worked together for more than 20 years to provide such an opportunity.
For the past 23 years, they have escorted eighth grade students to Mountain Lodge Conference Center for an Eighth Grade Luncheon.
The luncheon consists of many aspects of preparedness – from opening doors, learning proper table etiquette, to learning about the many different types of jobs available in and out of Pocahontas County.
Guest speakers talked with the students about their job experiences, offering insight into areas of employment that might be of interest to this younger generation.
The business luncheon is one way to prepare students for the job market, but manners and etiquette are tops on the list, as well.
CVB executive director Cara Rose welcomed the students as they arrived in the converted ballroom.
“I always love seeing the students dressed so nicely,” Rose said. “It really shows the professionalism that will be expected of them. Helping these students prepare for the next step in their lives is absolutely worth every second up here, and I wish we could do this more often.”
Frank DeBerry, President and Chief Operating Officer of Snowshoe Resort, offered words of encouragement.
“The purpose of this event today is to gradually ease you into the next big step in your educational career,” he said. “As you start high school, you will be starting life. There will be many choices and many opportunities offered to you, and now is the time to start thinking about those experiences. I hope everyone here today pulls something from these presentations, and that it helps you through your travels in life.”
As an icebreaker for the event, the students were each given a bingo card with questions on it. They then had to go around the room and ask those questions to students from other schools. Once a student got “bingo,” they chose a prize from an assortment of items.
The icebreaker was followed by breakout sessions, featuring different presenters.
Kristen LeCroy, who is the Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation Program Coordinator, focused on The World of Recreation.
“There are many great things about Pocahontas County, but there are other places just like it out there in the world,” LeCroy said. “When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to go into the world of art, but my parents didn’t want to pay the tuition for a university. So I decided to join the United States Coast Guard, where I picked up my affinity for being outdoors. They paid for me to go to college after I got out, and that was where I started my career in Parks and Rec. I then proceeded to get jobs all over the country, including Alaska, Hawaii and North Carolina, to name a few. One of the things that makes West Virginia stick out is its national forests and its state parks, but you don’t have to tie yourself down here. There are many places in the world that are exactly like here, with breathtaking scenery and amazing state parks. If you like being outdoors and you enjoy nature, you should definitely look into a career in Parks and Recreation.”
Shawn Cassell, Public Relations Specialist for Snowshoe Resort, was also a presenter.
“My job is to focus on the social media aspect of Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort,” Cassell said. “I deal with the news stations and all of the public relations for the mountain. My job usually consists of sending out emails to our season pass holders, emailing people to get them motivated to come up to Snowshoe, and giving daily snow reports. I cover all of the events that go on up here, and then put the videos up on all of the social media sites to try to draw people into the next events. Usually my job is pretty relaxed, but I do have to deal with the darker side of publicity, such as when people get hurt or even fatalities. But all in all, dealing with PR is a great way to reach out and connect with people all over the world.”
The third presenter was Timothy Luce, President of Presidio Studios, who talked about the adverse effects of posting things on social media. His presentation was titled “Hiring and Firing in the Age of Social Media.”
“Nowadays, everyone is on some form of social media,” Luce said. “Especially the younger generations. Now, I know that not everyone is perfect, and may do some bad things in their life, such as underage drinking. This is the biggest thing that kids are getting in trouble for on social media, because they want to post it to the entire world. Nowadays, employers will go and check your social media accounts to see how you really are. And if they get on there and see you doing a bunch of crazy things, or participating in illegal activities, it doesn’t matter how great your résumé may be, they won’t even give you a chance. You have to be careful what you or your friends are posting about you. It could quite literally end your career before it even begins.”
Pocahontas County High School ProStart teacher Teresa Mullen talked to the students about the ProStart culinary classes and the PCHS Tourism Club.
The students returned to the ballroom for lunch and to listen to keynote speaker Frank DeMarco, an Associate Professor at WVU College of Businesses and Economics with the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program. DeMarco spoke about the importance of Hospitality and Tourism.
“As all of the students gather here today, if you don’t take anything else away from this event, just remember this one thing, good planning is the key to success,” he said. “When you get to high school, planning is going to play a key role in where you go after school. Not everyone is going to have the same level of planning, but don’t just try to wing it. When I started the Hospitality and Tourism Program, it took quite a lot of planning to get the ball rolling. Now, I get to help prepare students to go into the world of hotels and tourism, and it’s all thanks to proper planning. So be sure to start thinking about the direction you want to take in life once you get to high school, because you are the future of the world, and you are all destined for great things.”
Brandon Nottingham may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org