Students glimpse future in desired fields

Castle View program pairs teens with real-life experience

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Tomorrow’s firefighters, hairstylists, pilots, editors, veterinarians and business leaders have all been busy getting a taste of just what that future will feel like.

About 100 seniors at Castle View High School each year have been participating in the school’s senior internship program — the most extensive in the district — since assistant principal Cheryl Myhra helped initiate it in 2008.

Each term, participating students pair up with a mentor at the school, and after applying for and being accepted by a site, head to the site each day, where they work on a project that either benefits their internship site, community or school.

“It’s all student-driven,” Myhra said. “We don’t have a list of internship sites, where we say ‘Pick the one that is closest to what you want to do.’ If they say they want to be a glassblower, then Stacy Hancock, our internship coordinator, goes out and researches and she finds a glassblower.

“I think it is a great opportunity for kids to see the world outside the school walls, to take a risk, to learn about their career path and find out if it is really what they think it is like. Sometimes we have kids who want to go into forensics, and they think it is like CSI, or one of the other TV shows. They get to find out what it is really like to be a teacher, to be working in a forensic lab or to work for a newspaper.”

This fall, Nick Puckett spent the first term of his senior year interning with Colorado Community Media, seeing what life is like in a newsroom. Macayla Dietrich has been busy getting a glimpse of working for a medical research firm. Ben Lohr experienced the business side of running a magazine. And Isaiah Fleming worked with Independence Aviation in Centennial, gaining a broader feel for the aviation field.

“I had been a little cautious before, thinking, ‘What if I can’t be a pilot,’ what if I go to school for that, what will I fall back on if it doesn’t work out,” Fleming said, “but the internship has taught me that if I go into in the aviation field, there is a lot more than just flying planes. That made me a lot more confident.”

Fleming still hopes to become a pilot, but now has taken up secondary interests in the aviation field, including aeronautical engineering and being an airplane technician.

“It’s a rigorous program, but that is what your senior year should be about, to take some risks, move out from the walls of the school, do something rigorous, something different, to start making that transition to whatever that next step is,” Myhra said.

And while many of the kids have college on their mind, Myhra said they are just as excited about helping kids find internships in vocational fields that don’t require a college degree, whether it is with an auto body shop or a beauty salon.

“We’re all about teaching the kind of skills that will help keep them ahead of the game, so that they will outdistance the kids who haven’t been a part of this,” she said.