"How long did that take you?”
“I don’t know…”
“I can get into Gisela’s stuff in a minute. Hey, after you’re done, I’ll try it on and show you…”
Two Payson High School boys bantered back and forth as they tried on Payson Fire Department’s full fireman gear during the annual Payson High School (PHS) Career Day in Wilson Dome.
Each class period, dozens of students wandered up and down row upon row of tables filled with representatives from colleges, scholarship grantors, technical institutes and public service organizations.
The building buzzed with conversation.
“This is a great opportunity for students to see what is outside of Payson,” said Julie Boldt, CTE data reporter for Payson High School. “Look at them — their eyes are bugged out looking at everything.”
She and Noelle Anderson of the Gila County Education Service Agency coordinated the event funded by a federal Gear Up grant.
The Mogollon Health Alliance kicked in funding to treat the presenters to lunch, said Sanja Long, executive director of the organization.
She had a table to talk to students about the scholarship they have available to help a student wishing to pursue any career in health care from nursing to massage therapy to dietician.
“We also have community service opportunities,” she said.
Many presenters commented on the increase in student attendance this year.
The event was mandatory for sophomores through seniors, while freshmen came if a class required them to attend, said Boldt.
Amity Justice stood by the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) table. The organization helps students enter a health care career.
“Cynthia Pool was the coordinator in the past,” said Justice of the popular PHS science teacher who died in a tragic accident.
Justice said her passing left a huge hole in the organization, but last year, she took up the reins to see what she could do.
“I have the most amazing officers,” she said, “They’re go-getters. I just suggest something and they’re off and running.”
Students in HOSA compete in statewide tournaments such as bio-medical debate, EMT and medical terminologies.
Justice said HOSA is new to Arizona, coming to the state in only the last 10 years, but the possibilities for the kids are amazing.
Over at the Collins College of Art and Design, the representative fielded a constant flow of students wondering about studying game production, graphic design, fashion design and merchandising as well as audio visual production.
“Our fashion design program has ties to the ‘Project Runway’ program,” she told a group of girls who picked up a brochure on fashion.
All three Arizona universities, Colorado State University, the Marine Corps, Army Reserve, Air Force, Arizona Game and Fish, the Payson Police Department, Arizona Department of Public Safety, and the Payson Fire Department introduced students to possibilities for their futures.
Back at the PFD table, the boy who said he could get dressed in a minute stood in boots with suspenders tucked in, readying friends with a stopwatch to time how fast he could pull on the gear.
“Go!” said a girl keeping time.
As friends snapped pictures, he smoothly and quickly pulled up the suspenders, tossed on the jacket, donned the ski mask cap with breathing tube attached and topped it all off with a helmet.
“One minute!” said the girl.
He did what he said he’d do — a future fireman in the making.