2011-05-26 / News

Career day a hit with students at Lawn Avenue School

By Margo Sullivan

Lawn Avenue School held its Island Treasures career day last week. Among participating professionals this year was an Air Force pilot, who joined students by making and throwing paper airplanes. Photo by Andrea von Hohenleiten Lawn Avenue School held its Island Treasures career day last week. Among participating professionals this year was an Air Force pilot, who joined students by making and throwing paper airplanes. Photo by Andrea von Hohenleiten A commercial fishing trawler, packed with children in bright orange life vests, pushed off from Dutch Harbor on Friday. The youngsters, all students at Lawn Avenue School, were enjoying the first-hand look at a catch courtesy of the state Department of Environmental Management and Island Treasures, a career day presentation for the middle school.

The trawling demonstration, in fact, was only one of dozens of presentations, as the grown-ups put on a different kind of show and tell. During morning and afternoon workshops, the professionals, who all live or work on Jamestown, gave the youngsters a taste of a real job.

The demonstrations included casting sculpture from rubber molds, checking out a local farm and going to the House of Pizza to learn how to spin dough.

“It’s so fun to see how excited the kids get over something new they just learned from a local talent,” said Leslie Hough, one of the organizers. “When you ask them what they learned today, they can’t wait to tell you some fact that makes them seem like an expert on the topic. The exchange of ideas and information is really amazing to see.”

Island Treasures day started as an idea from the Student Improvement Committee. This year, a doctor, three Air Force pilots, a company of volunteer firefighters, two ambulance workers, a veterinarian and a beautician were among the presenters.

Some students left the school grounds and went to visit the businesses. Others stayed at the school, while the guests transformed the Lawn Avenue classrooms into medical offices, art studios and spas.

Outside the school, volunteer firefighters turned the parking lot into a mini-training ground and taught some basics about fire and rescue. The firefighters brought an aerial ladder truck and showed the students how they shoot water at a fire.

Others professionals pitched tents outside and worked.

Beneath one tent, Matt Bodziony of NBX Bikes offered free tuneups with a lesson on basic maintenance.

“This is your spring tension,” Bodziony said. “This screw right here.” Jay Patel, 12, watched as Bodziony flicked the screwdriver into the bike part and made the adjustment to the seventh grader’s Quest mountain bike.

“He shows us how to fix our bikes, how to pressurize air and fix the gauges,” Jay said.

“The mechanics are fairly straightforward,” Jay added, but bike owners need to attend to their ride’s condition because a bike’s “more than a toy nowadays.”

Jay appreciated the crash course in bike maintenance, a skill he could use “anytime and anywhere.” He likes mechanics but aspires to become an electrical engineer, a career he started considering after a visit to Washington, D.C.’s George Washington University where his brother studies biomedical engineering. The tour of the campus impressed him, and he decided he wanted to work in a lab.

“I’m fascinated with technology,” he said.

Marco Greco-Byrne, 12, in sixth grade, missed out on trawling for fish in Narragansett Bay. He wants to become a marine biologist, but that seminar was full. He’ll have a chance next year, teacher Jenn Clark said. Clark said the trawler puts down nets and brings up a catch, so students can see the life living in the water.

She’s pleased the students have such great career ambitions and that so many of their ideas seem inspired by living in Jamestown.

“I love the water,” Marco said, “because I grew up on the water and stuff.” His science class is working on one sea-life project, the Atlantic salmon restoration, he said. In a way, his marine adventures led him to the bike workshop.

Marco said his mountain bike is six years old and rusty because a wave caught him one day when he was riding on the Block Island sand.

“A wave came in,” he laughed. Clark asked him if he fell off the bike; Marco said he stayed on but had to ride “upside down.”

Marco said Bodziony looked at the damage. “He said it was time to get a new bike,” Marco said.

Elliott Italiano, 12, a seventh grader, brought a BMX bike to the workshop. He also owns a mountain bike and said he likes them about the same. “They’re both fun,” he said.

Elliott wants to be a wildlife photographer and hopes to travel to exotic places. “I thought it was fun,” he said. So far, he’s been to Italy.

Jack Gamble, 12, also in seventh grade, came to the bike seminar, too. Jack brought his mountain bike for a checkup. He wants to be a police officer and credits last year’s career day for giving him a taste of real police work.

“It just intrigues me,” he said. “My family’s been in law enforcement. They just tell me stories. I like it; it sounds really cool.”

At another popular workshop, Prim Bullock and Judy Bell, both with Jamestown Emergency Medical Services, presented “911 in Jamestown” to show the students everything that happens when a resident calls 911. They parked the ambulance in the lot behind school and invited the students to climb aboard and try the equipment.

Meghann Maguire, 12, tried out the backboard and let her classmates put her in a neck brace and neck blocks.

“We learned a lot, and it was fun,” she said, but admitted she felt a little scared when the students picked her up.

Chris Michalik, 11, also pretended to be a patient. The fifth grader looked unsure whether to laugh or groan when his classmates prepared to lift him into the ambulance. Bianca Melucci, 11, supervised while the other youngsters secured the straps around Chris and tightened them.

Bullock coached and said the idea was to push all the air out of the stretcher so the patient was immobile.

“It’s really hard,” Chris said. “I feel like a rock.”

Earlier, Bell talked to the children about smart things to do to help the ambulance workers, such as turning on the porch light and send someone outside to meet the rescue.

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