CASTLETON-Over 300 junior high school students from around the
region gathered at Castleton State College last week for an annual
event presented by the Rutland Region Workforce Investment Board on
the importance of education and career goals. The aphorism for the
day was "your journey starts here." Seventh graders spent the day
on campus hearing from inspirational speakers, touring the college
and meeting with student athletes.
"We're trying to do things to increase the relevance of school,"
said Nancy Burzon, executive director of the board.
Many seemed to echo the message that if a young student shows
interest in a particular path in life, it is critical that he or
she recognizes the importance of their choices now. "Today doesn't
have to be about putting a plan in place but let's challenge you to
think about a few things," said adjunct professor and head football
coach Marc Klatt in his welcoming speech. "College is a place to
enhance your personal growth. It's going to challenge you in the
way you think and feel about things. You're going to have the
opportunity to hear about and experience others perspectives. Life
is about challenges and how you respond to them."
The assembly then heard from a Vermont State Trooper about his
education, life and the importance of perseverance.
After the introductory remarks, the young students split into
groups led by 42 college mentors, most of which were athletes.
"These students are a few years ahead of these seventh graders
in their own journey. They are going to be helping these younger
students think about their future by sharing their stories," Burzon
As both a teacher and coach, Marc Klatt knows firsthand the
unique pressures college student-athletes encounter, and notes that
it is impressive that they are able to take time to participate.
"It speaks to the type of student-athletes we have here," Klatt
"They are always willing and giving of their time which is at a
premium because of classes, practice, games, and training sessions
with our strength and conditioning staff."
In the smaller groups, the seventh graders shared what they
wanted to be when they grew up and if they had plans for college.
"At first, they were a bit hesitant to ask us questions, but as the
day went on, they were all over it asking us questions about
college, academics, and sports," said Chelsea Crehan, one of the
student leaders. "I enjoyed it and would do it again if the
opportunity presented itself."
Crehan plans on becoming a middle school physical education
teacher so she enjoyed the opportunity to interact with that age
group. She sees value in the program and recognizes the importance
of having choices presented to you early in your educational
career. "There are many students who do not believe they are
college bound or will make it to college. I think it is good to put
the idea of college and also athletics into their heads at an early
age because everyone has the opportunity to make a choice about
college and what they want to be when they grow up. It gives
students the opportunity to set goals for themselves early and
reevaluate once they get to high school," she said.
An extensive tour of the Castleton campus was the highlight of
the day for many of the young students. They saw classrooms, dorm
buildings and athletic complexes.
To wrap the day up, Anthony Edwards and Melissa Rixon spoke to
the whole group who reunited at the Fine Arts Center at Castleton.
Edwards and Rixon are both are recent graduates of Rutland High
School and shared their stories about the choices they made and the
resources they utilized. Edwards shoots photography for the Rutland
Herald and spoke highly of the Stafford Technical School program.
Rixon is currently a student at Johnson State College and she spoke
about how her plans and goals changed throughout her educational
pursuits. She wrapped up the event succinctly by quoting the 'best
motivational speaker ever:' Yoda, from Star Wars. "Do or do not,
there is no try."