Around Crofton: Career Day at Crofton Meadows Elementary: Fu

 In News & Events

CHRISTINE KELLAR, For The Capital – 05/09/2009

Let’s hear your very best snores!” With that challenge from sleep lab associate Sonia Vega, a group of second-graders at Crofton Meadows Elementary School burst into a loud chorus of snores and giggles. The fun was part of the school’s annual Career Day event on Friday.

During her presentation, one of 17 at Career Day, Sonia drew a link between students’ schoolwork and her own work at Rest Assured Sleep Centers, where she helps to prepare and ensure the accuracy of sleep-study reports. “These reports are important to patients’ health; that’s why it’s important to learn how to write and spell well,” she said.

In teaching students about sleep and sleep disorders, Sonia used a mannequin to demonstrate how electrodes are attached to sleep-study patients, and to display a mask used in treating sleep apnea. Jason Vega, 8, was proud of his mother’s presentation. “I learned about what goes on in your brain when you sleep,” Jason said.

Crofton Meadows Principal Janine Robinson spent a busy afternoon welcoming presenters and guiding them to their assigned posts around the school. She said, “We’re fortunate to have an excellent lineup this year. Several speakers are parents of students at the school; most are from the wider community.

“We’ve got members of the county’s water and wastewater team out front with three big trucks. We’ve got someone from NASA, a videographer from the White House, a radio host … plus a geologist, biologist, nutritionist, and more.”

PTA President Cindy Drabick, who led Career Day preparations, said: “Interest was high this year; we have more speakers than ever before.” She explained, “We start recruiting speakers early in the year. Once we have commitments, then the puzzle comes into play of pairing up speakers with the appropriate age levels.”

Each class of students from kindergarten through fifth-grade attended four selected 20-minute presentations. In Cindy’s view, the work and planning were well worth it. She said, “In these trying economic times, we want the children to know that they can (still) set their goals and dreams as high as they want.”

A returning speaker from last year’s event was Baltimore Blast soccer star Denison Cabral, who coaches several Crofton Meadows students at area soccer camps. While his presentation did include a bit of fancy footwork, his main theme was the importance of education. The Brazilian native told fifth graders: “When I left home at age 15 to play pro soccer in Brazil, my parents said, ‘You’re chasing your dream, and we support you … but if you don’t keep up your grades, you’re coming right back home!'” He recalled, “When I traveled with the team, I carried two bags — one full of soccer equipment, and the other full of school books.” Denison concluded with a message to students: “Keep your priorities straight. Education helps you gain the confidence you need for success as a professional athlete.”

Volunteer work was also a focus of Career Day. Jena Cochrane and U.S. Army Maj. Tracey Smith volunteer as “puppy raisers” with Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a nonprofit guide dog training school. Jena introduced students to Sadie, an “ambassador dog” for the organization, while Tracey had her hands full with a rambunctious eight-month-old puppy, Garland. Second-grader Eric Erdely, 8, grinned as he closed his eyes and was led around the classroom by the implacable Sadie. “I didn’t know that a dog could lead you,” Eric said. “I thought it had to be the other way around.”

Before their presentation, Jena noted, “I explain to the kids that the puppies have to go to school, just like they do. Instead of reading, writing and arithmetic, it’s sitting, coming and staying.

“The puppies have to learn these basic skills before they can go on to ‘college’ to learn how to become working dogs.” Smith added, “We also explain that working dogs can change careers, just like people can. A dog may work as a guide dog for the blind, and then begin a new career as, say, a bomb-sniffing dog.”

Dr. Rachel Klickman and Veterinary Technician Matthew Castle of Crofton Veterinary Center also brought along animal companions for their presentation on careers in veterinary medicine. “I want to impress on students that (veterinary medicine) is not just dogs and cats,” Rachel said. “There are large-animal, wildlife, and research career options. Epidemiology is also big, especially right now with the swine flu scare.”

During his final presentation of the day, pianist Sean Lane serenaded third-grade students with a selection of classical, jazz, and pop numbers. He described his career as a musician, which recently included playing with his band at a presidential inaugural party, and stressed the importance of “learning and practicing the fundamentals, even if they’re boring.” He concluded his presentation with some “sound” advice: “If you can find something that you love to do, and people will pay you money to do it…that’s a great career.”

The Connor Cares Foundation will host Pool Safety Night from 7 to 9 p.m. May 18 at Crofton Meadows Elementary School, 2020 Tilghman Drive. This free event will feature an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) demonstration, CPR education, and a pool-safety demonstration. Refreshments will be served.