Franklin career fair prepares students 'for college and beyond'

CHAMPAIGN — If you have a question about what it takes to be a veterinarian, or a chef, or a pediatrician or even a Lego designer, chances are, there's a Franklin Middle School seventh-grader who knows the answer.

Seventh graders in the school's honors English language arts classes put on a career fair in the school's cafeteria Wednesday, spouting facts and showing off tri-fold boards full of information for other students, parents, grandparents and other visitors.

The career fair is aimed at teaching students how to research and present nonfiction in an interesting way, said Carolyn Kodes-Atkinson, who teaches honors English language arts, and Jefferson's building leader for that subject. They've been researching careers for about five weeks.

They're also gaining experience in giving presentations, and the career fair ties in with an activity called Career Cruising they do with their counselors.

"This is one of the things we do to prepare students for college and beyond," Kodes-Atkinson said.

Anna Ding considered researching what it's like to be a sociologist, but settled on researching journalism and fiction writing.

She said she developed a love for writing in fourth grade at Dr. Howard Elementary, when Debi Stapleton was her teacher.

"She helped me find my style ... to spread my message out to the world and for the pleasure of writing itself," Ding said.

Ding also loves to read and said she enjoys being drawn into fiction stories.

She said the most interesting thing she found was that the two fields are dramatically different, even though they both require writing.

She said it was challenging to get writers to talk about their work or even respond to her inquiries, but she found some willing to share about their experiences self-publishing.Alex Pfeffer researched the career of a chef, because his grandfather worked as one in a restaurant. Pfeffer enjoys cooking and making food he likes.

He learned that beginning chefs make about $14 an hour and with more experience, can make more than $25 an hour. On his presentation board, he also included some recipes he's hoping to try.

"It was a good fit for me," he said.

Tony Rein of Champaign was there to hear a presentation by his granddaughter, Addie Cobb.

He made his way around the tables, listening to students tell what they learned about various professions.

He said he was surprised by the number of students who researched medical professions, and yet two students researched careers in cooking, as well.

"The kids did a lot of work and a lot of research," Rein said.

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