Camp gives teens a taste of the trades

Two students look over their 'life' options while Santetia Triplett adds up her expenses.
Staff Writer

Call it the power of suggestion. 
Give high school students an inside look at some of the region's top manufacturing plants like PACCAR, Aurora Flight Sciences and International Paper. Tell them about the opportunities for their future.

Then give them make-believe jobs and professions paying good salaries with benefits and idyllic family lives with children and pets. Throw in an occasional case where they failed at professions like accounting and ended up as a manufacturing supervisor.
Explain to them these aren't the jobs their grandfathers worked in dirty old mills doing back-breaking labor.

And then have them use their fantasy career to make decisions like housing and insurance and transportation and food with the idea they will not only see how difficult the decisions can be but also that these manufacturing jobs can provide a comfortable life with money left over at the end of the year.
It's planting a seed.
In the end, a few of those high school students might one day become real-life manufacturing supervisors and superintendents.

That was one of the goals of the annual Advanced Manufacturing Professionals camp at EMCC last week which attracted 16 high school students interested in careers that may be guided more by skills and the trades than long-term academics.

Friday, Graham Roofing, West Brothers Construction, McCrary West and Burns Dirt to provide career scenarios and help the students navigate the tricky world of adulthood.

"We want to help them start learning about the tough decisions their parents have to make and get them thinking that way, to open their eyes. But we also want to show them there are good jobs out there besides being an accountant or working at a retail store," explained Graham Roofing co-owner and President Christee Holbrook.
"We want them to see the trades as a real, viable future," she continued.

The jobs and careers handed out to the students for the life challenge included real jobs and salaries from the companies. Likewise, the expenses they faced came from real-life scenarios. Johnnie Moore from Carl Hogan Toyota was on hand at the transportation booth to help them decide between new and used cars and trucks or sedans.

The cell phone prices came straight from packages offered by Verizon.
Chris Rhett with Galloway Chandler and McKinney insurance helped them understand plans, coverages and risks. 
Sheila Smith and Brent Lochala from 4-County Electric explained their utilities and ways they might save a little money.

"I make pretty good money," Starkville High student Aaron Verdell said as he reviewed his career and life card and talked to Moore about his vehicle options.
"I was surprised at how much groceries were," said West Point High student Billy Credille as he added up his expenses to see what he had left over at the end of the year.

"Groceries were the big thing. I had no idea it cost that much," added Sentetia Triplett from Noxubee County.

Most of the students had money left over at the end of the their "year." And most said they planned to save it although some said they'd use "a little" to splurge on a vacation.
Some showed wisdom for high-schoolers.

For instance, Caledonia High student Zach Holliman realized buying a house cost about the same as renting a smaller apartment and he got a property tax deduction. He didn't mind the yard work and his insurance expenses weren't that different.
"It just made sense," he said.
He, too, suffered a little sticker at the expenses, including groceries. Will it make him pay a little more attention when adults are shopping.
"It sure will. I've learned a lot about everything," he responded.