Freshman Focus encourages students to consider careers

NORTH SHELBY – Oak Mountain High School freshman Anna Constance Graffeo thinks she might want to pursue a career in performing arts, but Graffeo might not be thinking about what she needs to do now to set herself up for success without Freshman Focus.

Now in its fourth year at OMHS, Freshman Focus entails students presenting career projects they prepared to business people and other community members.

Freshman students in career preparation courses take an aptitude assessment, choose a career and research that occupation along with what they can do during their time in high school to be able to pursue that career.

Then at Freshman Focus, they present their portfolios to the volunteers, who grade the students’ material and presentations. The presentation counts as 25 percent of their grade in the career prep class, business education teacher Laura Ingram said.

In addition to their electronic portfolios, this year students’ presentations included discussing three “bucket list” items so the mentors could get to know them better.

Students prepared for the presentations by discussing in class topics like dress and eye contact.

Graffeo said she has participated in choir since kindergarten and show choir since the seventh grade, and started to think she might want a career in performing arts.

Freshman Focus encouraged Graffeo to study how that would work, she said.

“It made me dig deeper into what I want to do,” Graffeo said.

Oak Mountain’s other career prep instructors are Drew Pickett, Cindy Smith and Paula Hughes.

Ingram said administrators, counselors and other teachers are important to the success of Freshman Focus because of the logistics involved, including students missing part of other classes.

“This is only successful when you have everyone in the school participating,” Ingram said.