Helicopter provides show-stopping career day

SAN BENITO — A chorus of “oohs” and “ahhs” echoed throughout the playground as a helicopter circled twice before finally landing.

The pilots jumped out and waved to the students of Rangerville Elementary who ran to the chain-link fence that separated them to get a better look.

It was the annual career day at the San Benito elementary school yesterday, but with a twist.

The Careers on Wheels event brought something tangible to the students for their viewing pleasure.

Professional vehicles including police cars, fire trucks and emergency medical vehicles were parked outside and students were open to ask questions about the units and the jobs that go along with them.

Principal Diana Atkinson said the Careers on Wheels event allowed students to get excited about prospective careers.

“Every year, we have a career day and this year we decided to do a Careers on Wheels so that students could see different aspects of the job,” Atkinson said.

Counselor Deborah Morales spent time planning the event and said she contacted agencies the school district interacts with on a daily basis and parents of her students to find presenters.

“The kids look forward to it every year,” Morales said. “It just gives them the opportunity to know the jobs that are out there for them.”

The vehicles on site allowed the younger students to engage with the physical aspect of the job.

Students were given overviews of each vehicle and were eager to ask questions about the jobs.

In addition to the emergency vehicles, about a dozen professionals including martial arts instructors, cosmetologists and an author gave presentations inside on their careers.

The main attraction, though, was the helicopter.

Morales said she had been trying for years to bring a helicopter to campus for the students.

Three agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection donated their time and landed a helicopter in an open field near the playground.

Students were taken in small groups to visit with the agents and ask questions about flying helicopters.

“I already heard some when they were leaving say, ‘I want to be a pilot,’” Morales said.

Professions represented

• Cosmetology

• Police Department

• Fire Department

• Emergency Medical Services

• Border Patrol and Customs

• Navy/ Armed

• Martial Arts