Rio Vista High School Hosts Alumni Career Fair

Anthony Gutierrez
Staff Writer
April 27, 2016

River News-Herald

Rio Vista High School was host to the 2nd annual Career Fair where a strong message about “Home Grown Success” was conveyed to its students. Also, an enriching program called AVID brought benefits to students who can learn skills to better prepare themselves for the real world.

At the Career Fair, there were some presentations from engineers, social workers, construction workers, graphic artists and others. John Bento, Lions Club member, recruited these presenters of their respective category and he made one special qualification about those presenters he chose. The presenters were alumni students from Rio Vista High school.

“This adds to the message of Home Grown Success,” said Loretta Abbott, Counselor at Rio Vista High School.

Abbott said that kids underestimate themselves by thinking they’re just Rio Vista students. “They say I won’t hit it big, but we want to let them know that Rio Vista is a great starting place. Our presenters who came in today were students just like them and they went far and have great careers.”

The idea to bring a career fair to Rio Vista High School started with John Bento’s dream for the younger generation. He had a conversation with a high school sophomore some years back. The high school student had big dreams of making it to Hollywood to work in the hair and makeup industry.  There was a problem though. “How can I make it to Hollywood from Rio Vista,” the troubled student asked.

Bento responded, “Have you seen Tim Burton’s adaption of Alice in Wonderland?” He went on, “A student from Rio Vista did the hair and makeup for that movie.” This brought a surprise and a rejuvenated hope in the student.

Bento said kids know who they grew up with, but they don’t know who left and where they are now. He came up with the idea of making a career fair day based on the premise that the presenters would be alumni from Rio Vista. “The alumni have walked through these high school halls. They can relate to the students. The fact that you grew up in Rio Vista shouldn’t be an obstacle to reaching your dreams,” he said.
He wants to encourage the idea that if an alumnus can reach their dreams, students can do it too. “What I want the kids to take away from this event is that whatever goal they have, being from Rio Vista should just be a stepping stone in getting to their destination. Whatever it is you want to do, there are people from Rio Vista who have done it. This is why the Lions Club wants to heavily invest on career fair day at the high school,” he said.

There were a total of 35 presenters. A handful of firefighters addressed the students. The firefighters talked about the purpose of being a firefighter. The students showed interest as some students participated in some of the presentations and some joined the Explorer program that the fire department offers.

The Coast Guard also came to give presentations. They brought one of their boats, showed it off to the students and talked about the different careers there were for the Coast Guard. They talked about the Coast Guard mission and their purpose. Many students showed their interest.

The California Conservation Care Organization came as well. They are an outdoor organization that focuses on learning about the outdoor lifestyle. They are very land conservation focused. Members who join would have to leave home and find a home here. Their work is cleaning trails in a non-dangerous setting.

A number of other presenters came. One was a graphic arts presenter from the Delta. Another one was the chief of police of Lodi. Derek Abel of Abel Chevrolet came and talked about running a business and his journey to getting to the career he has now. RVHS Principal Victoria Turk, John Bento and Loretta Abbott were the major driving forces who helped bring the career fair to campus.

Abbott encouraged the idea that the sky is the limit and with effort boundaries can be broken to the pursuit of academic goals. Abbot has worked with two kids who she feels proud of. One of them was a woman who was denied college. She asked Abbot for help. They made an appeal to the college and got in. Since then, the student has been on the honor roll every year.

There was another student Abbot helped reach academic success. She explained how this student had a hard time understanding the English language. English was his second language. “His grades were low in high school, but he picked them up in college,” she said. Abbot explained how focused the student was on his goals and through enough effort; he was hired as a head mechanic at a trucking company in his early 20s. “He had big dreams,” she said.

Abbott explained the importance of help to students. “There are a lot of people who want to help students as educators. We give them homework that they do alone, but we should be helping them by encouraging togetherness. We should encourage students to seek help and to be helped for others.”

She explained how in the real world, there are more group projects that are done by communicating with someone else, by helping each other to a goal and reaching that goal together. That’s how most real life jobs are in general.

The AVID program (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a student help program that teaches real life skills. This program helps students get organized and achieve their goals to higher education.

There’s miscommunication and hesitation about this program, however. Some students shy away from the program thinking they’re not good enough for the program while others think they’re too good for it, according to Abbott.

AVID explains how studying works and the importance of study groups. There are talks about starting AVID in the 6th grade with hopes that kids will continue the program to high school.

About the career fair, Abbott said how there was a 96% approval rate by students who enjoyed it based on a poll last year. “We will continue to improve the career fair every year,” Abbott said. Along with Bento, she hopes to enlist a new program through Skype that will allow alumni presenters to join in from both around and out of the country. Some alumni had shown interest in coming but they were overseas and couldn’t make the trip.

A long term goal Abbott hopes students will achieve with events like the career fair and the program called AVID would be students visualizing themselves beyond high school. “When they can visualize where they are going to land in the future and the presenters who came today can give them advice on a path then the students can pick themselves up and start building their own road map.”

“Limitations that exist are the ones we create in our mind. If we can release them and break through these limitations, we can do so much more,” Abbott said. “It just takes enough effort to realize the possibilities and make them a reality.”

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