Meadows Stages Career Day, Helicopter

By: Todd Martin
From dairy farming to engineering, meteorology, plumbing and law enforcement, the career day at Meadows Elementary School was so fun some students barely noticed the learning.

Even the presenters that brought to life about 25 different career fields Friday wanted to venture behind the school building to see the Apache helicopter and the Abrams tank.

“It looks really cool,” said fifth-grader Hannah Baker, echoing a whole campus as she and her peers stepped away from a 9-ton military helicopter. Like many students at the Fort Hood campus, her dad was one of the presenters.

“The best part is that my dad brought the helicopter,” she said, noting that a friend’s dad brought the tank displayed at the rear of the school building.

“I’m excited. My dad has never been here for career day,” Baker said.

Most elementary schools in the area conduct a career day of some kind. School counselor Misti Wetzel said she and other counselors decided about four years ago to make the day more exciting.

“I hope what they walk away with is an excitement about future opportunities for jobs and careers,” she said. “They can see how what they do in math, what they do in PE relates to their future.”

It’s easy for an elementary school child to wonder when they will use a specific skill in real life, but moving through rotations, Wetzel pointed out, it becomes clear that career fields intersect.

Flying a helicopter is a technical process that includes a lot of math and also requires attention to weather, which is heavily science, the counselor explained.

A nurse showed students how to hold a newborn baby. Killeen High School students and math teacher Mike Owens discussed STEM fields, which include science, technology, engineering and math.

Soldier medics demonstrated how to use a litter and started an IV on a willing, teacher volunteer.

“It gets them to think about how learning applies to the real world,” said fifth-grade teacher Aurora Lucero. “With the military, they see the vehicles, but not up close where they can ask questions.”

Chief Warrant Officer Stephen Napoli, an Apache helicopter pilot, said the day was as exciting for the presenters as it was for the students.

The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade pilot said he wanted students to see the importance of teamwork and being a good friend and also staying in school in order to get to pursue the career of their choice.

“They’re having fun,” he said. “They’re trying things on and they’re asking good questions. It’s very technical,” he said of the helicopter. “It requires a lot of school. You have to think ahead and solve problems. You use the math muscles of your brain.”

“It’s cool to hear about the different careers,” said fourth-grader Matthew Franco, who said he wants to be a soccer player or a police officer. “This way we can see if we want to do these careers and we learn what these careers do.”

“It seems awesome,” said Baker. “It’s exciting because we’re getting ready for careers. We get to see cool careers and we get out of school, but we’re still learning.”