Just as college graduates are hearing good news about the job market, local high schools are celebrating their own 2017 grads, using Signing Day ceremonies to urge teens to actively plan their futures.
West Carrollton High School brought the entire student body to the gym Thursday morning, as the senior class signed “letters of intent,” stating their postgraduate plans, and underclassmen heard motivational speeches from seniors and Principal Craig Myers.
“You will find many people in this world who make excuses about why they are not where they want to be,” Myers said, touting the many options available at the school. “It’s up to you to take advantage of these opportunities.”
Those West Carrollton seniors are headed to a wide variety of next steps — college at Sinclair, Ohio State, the College of Charleston and others; nine students are headed to various branches of the military, some are going straight into the workforce, and others will study welding and other trades at schools like the Hobart Institute.
“I always wanted to go to college because nobody in my family had gone before,” said West Carrollton valedictorian Deidra Mullins, who has a scholarship to Wright State. “In third grade, our teacher had a friend who was a detective, and I talked to him when he came in, and that really pushed me on my path for criminal justice.”
Evelyn Copas also had an early idea toward a career after helping a badly injured friend when she was in middle school. Now she’s headed to Kettering College for a three-year nursing degree.
But not everyone is so sure. Connor Macy said that last year he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do and was worried about debt, having seen others change majors, extending their college stays.
“I thought the military and Navy would be a perfect choice to mature, and learn about exactly what I want to do after college,” he said.
Myers said 50 seniors spoke to elementary and middle school students Thursday, explaining choices they’ve made to put them on paths to success. West Carrollton also gets students thinking about their futures via a Freshman Foundations class that asks them to make a 10-year plan.
“We want them to think, what’s my ideal career, and then plan backward, how do I actually get there?” Myers said. “It really pushes them to think — what are my strengths and weaknesses? Where do I want to live? … It’s a great way of focusing their thoughts.”
Learn to Earn Dayton helped launch these Signing Day events at Montgomery County high schools a few years ago. They bring the celebratory focus of college athlete signing ceremonies to the entire school.
Dayton Public Schools’ event Monday featured 266 students from all six high schools, with a session on college finances, and a Q&A with DPS grads now in college. DPS has graduates headed to 73 different colleges and three branches of the armed forces.
Now the focus, in Dayton and West Carrollton, turns toward the next classes.
“Freshmen, start planning ahead and get a sense of what you want to do in your future, and start making goals for yourselves,” said West Carrollton senior Rafael Santillan, who is headed to the University of Cincinnati. “Don’t struggle like I did. Don’t wait until your final year of high school to give it your all.”