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Enquirer photo/Lauren Jackson Ben Caldwell, Jake Little, Colby Ricks, Beth Emerson, Ethan Lance and Rebecca Longobardi take a career selfie.

Hartselle High hosts expanded second annual career picnic

Thousands of students from Hartselle City Schools flocked to the front of the high school Sept. 20 for the second annual Hartselle Works Career Fair and Picnic. The fair brought together more than 40 businesses and organizations – more than double the size of last year’s event. 

Jeff Hyche, Hartselle City Schools career tech director, said the event allows students to meet with local industries and organizations. “This is just an opportunity to showcase for students the opportunities that are out there, right in our backyard,” Hyche said. 

Enquirer photo/Lauren Jackson
Natalie Buttleman and McKenzie Davis learn more about a prospective career choice.

The fair welcomed various local industries, college recruiters, military representatives and businesses. Hyche said the event expanded from last year to include more options for the students. 

“My goal is we talk about career readiness and college readiness, but to me, when they leave Hartselle High School, I want everyone of them to be employed, enrolled in college or enlisted in the military,” Hyche said. “College and career ready is fine, but it doesn’t mean too much; my goal is that we can really help them figure out some things and some opportunities while we have them.”

Enquirer photo/Lauren Jackson
Jeremey Smith, Taryn Mullins and Hudson Crow take part in the career fair and picnic.

The fair welcomed about 1,300 students throughout the day and included fun activities alongside the networking opportunities. Students took part in an informational scavenger hunt to help start conversations between businesses and students. 

“Each guest has some type of question for the kids to come up and ask them, and it was really just an ice breaker, but it’s something they probably won’t know on their own unless they go up and engage,” Hyche said. “We really just want them engaged and talking. You never know where that might lead.”

Some students made beelines for the organizations and businesses that grabbed their interest. Others were less sure of their career interests – like Amira Patton, who said the event was helpful in giving her appropriate information. 

Enquirer photo/Lauren Jackson
Emma Ballew, Lauryn Stovall, Mackenzie Gutherie and Grace Braddock stand outside the Huntsville Hospitals booth.

“I feel like this is something that is very educational for people that don’t really know what they would like to pursue in the future. This is something that can help make that decision,” Patton said. 

Hyche said in the future, he hopes to see the fair continue to grow, and he has invited students from other school systems to attend the event. 

“It is all about what is good for our region. I don’t want us to think in terms of school systems or county lines or school lines. We just want to work together for the betterment of our region,” Hyche said.