1 of 2
Photo by Theo Tate
Keith Otten, technical education coordinator at Southwestern Illinois College in Granite City, talks to a student April 12 during the Granite City High School Industrial Career Fair.
2 of 2
Photo by Theo Tate
Lucy Acevedo (left) and Marli Kansteiner, representatives of Paul Mitchell School in St. Louis, talk to Granite City High freshman Hailey Markovich.
GRANITE CITY — On March 23, a pair of representatives from Paul Mitchell School in St. Louis — Marli Kansteiner and Lucy Acevedo — came to Granite City High School for a lunch visit.
“I’ve been coming here every year for three years to talk to students,” Kansteiner said. “I got so many students coming up and talking to me.”
One of those students was GCHS freshman Hailey Markovich. She wants to be a cosmetologist in the future.
“I love doing it,” Markovich said.
On April 12, Markovich, Kansteiner and Acevedo met again, this time at the inaugural Granite City High School Industrial Career Fair.
Paul Mitchell, a cosmetology school, and other businesses attended the career fair, which gave an opportunity for GCHS students to gather information regarding their future after graduation.
“We want to give them a vision and hope that there’s something they can do because not every kid is book smart,” said Pam Cook, head of the GCHS guidance department and the fair’s coordinator. “But there are some kids who are hands-on smart. When they don’t do well in English, they sometimes feel like they’re a failure. We want them to see that just because you’re not good in English, you’re really good in sheet metal. You can be something and you can get a job making more than that kid who graduated from that four-year university and can’t get find a job.”
Representatives from Southwestern Illinois Laborers District Council, Southwestern Illinois College in Granite City, Ranken Tech, IBEW Local 309, Hickey College, Massage Envy and SunCoke also attended the 1 ½-hour career fair.
“We couldn’t have done this without them,” Cook said. “They’re the people who have the information. They have all of the opportunities for these kids to share it with them.”
Cook, head of GCHS’ Industrial Department, said she came up with the idea of having an industrial career fair about a year ago.
“Because we’re an industrial town and we have such a great industrial department at the high school where the kids learn all of this, we thought it would be a good way to reach the kids who aren’t going to be a four-year student (in college),” she said. “They’re not going to SIUE, but they have skills and they want to learn the trade. So we want to connect them with people who will give them that opportunity to see what the future holds. From my understanding, by the year 2020, there will be 3,000 jobs that the industrial market can’t fill because there are not enough skilled laborers. So we want our kids, who already have an opportunity, to be able to meet these people and make plans for their future so Granite City stays alive and we grow and we keep that industry going.”
GCHS has an industrial department composed of automotive tech, building trades, electricity, machine tool and welding and has a vocational program at which students work for two hours per day for two years, learning the skill of the trade they are taking.
“Our department is really good,” Cook said. “We have two social workers, a fabulous secretary and three other counselors. We really try to be positive and encourage the kids to go out there and go after it. Their life is there. You have to work hard to be successful. It’s just not going to be given to you. But it’s there if you want it.”
Cook has been working in GCHS’ guidance department for 10 years, but this is her first year as department head.