Students from Panther Valley High School recently took part in the school's second annual Career Day. It was a chance for students to hear from local professionals, including several who graduated from Panther Valley, about career opportunities after high school.

The program was organized by the Freshman Transition Team, a group of faculty who work to ensure that students' transition from middle to high school is successful. The team's activities also place an emphasis on students being "college and career ready" by the time they complete their senior year.

"It's a great opportunity to show students what's out there. Many of our students think that they come from an impoverished town, and that there are no opportunities out there," said transition team member and social studies teacher Frank Damian, who hoped that career day would help to dispel this thinking among Panther Valley students. "There are a lot of good jobs in our area."

Students were able to choose from a wide variety of sessions from health care and finances to science, traditional college opportunities, and beauty school. Each student selected five career sessions, spending 20 minutes with each presenter as they learned more about their field.

"You just never know when the light will come on. The more switches you can flip, the better," said Ed Collins, transition team member and high school business teacher. "Career day might open their eyes to what they're interested in."

High school senior Courtney Lazar, Summit Hill, may have discovered a new career path during the program. She has been accepted into the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia for pharmacy and sat in on Blue Mountain Health System's session about careers in health care. After learning that Blue Mountain Health Systems offers job shadowing for students, she now plans to shadow a hospital pharmacist to fine-tune her career expectations.

"I was happy that they said I could job shadow a pharmacist in the hospital," she said, noting that she has spent time with pharmacists in retail settings but is curious about the difference between job environments. "It enhanced my desire to go into the health care profession."

The day also proved beneficial for students like Ethan Vermillion, a freshman from Summit Hill who isn't sure what he plans to do after high school. He signed up to hear from J. Chris West, the superintendent of Pyramid Sports Performance Center in Lehighton, because he enjoys sports. While West provided information about a career in athletics, he also spent time encouraging students to discover new things and get out of their small-town bubble.

"He was a good speaker, and had a good story," said Vermillion. "Career day gave me some options to choose from and opened my eyes a little."

In addition to West, speakers for the day included Mark Shanton, athletic trainer; John Owens and Ann Marie Calabrese, Magic 105.5 WMGH; Barbara Charles, PA CareerLink; Joe Killino, Kovatch; David Barachie, Whitewater Rafting Adventures; Michael Davis, Ameriprise Financial; Jennifer Karnish, Jim Thorpe National Bank; Garry Higgins, physical therapist; Oscar Santizo and Pat Anglovich, Human Resources Center; Joseph Greco and Paul Zona, Carbon County Juvenile Probation; Corrine Kanetski, dietitian; Frank Karnish, Panther Valley High School science teacher; Mark Christ, Panther Valley High School music director; and Jason Blozousky, McCann School of Business.