NEW MATAMORAS - It hasn't been long since Tricia Chute and Travis Flores were students at Frontier High School, but on Wednesday they were back and at the head of the classroom, passing on tips for college and beyond to students.
The alumni were two of 13 presenters who took part in the second annual College and Career Training Day, which offered a panel discussion and then break-out sessions that focused on everything from paying for college to the experiences students might have once they're there.
There were also representatives from several colleges, the Washington County Career Center, the U.S. Navy and a local electricians union.
Photo by Kate York
Presenter Tricia Chute shares stories of a college quarter spent in Mexico with Frontier High School students Wednesday.
The event replaced a former Career Day at the school that was more traditional.
"Obviously, all the students will someday have careers, but we wanted to focus on how you get to that career, too," said Frontier guidance counselor Holly Cunningham. "Learning doesn't stop here, and whether it's a four-year college, two-year college or an apprenticeship, we want them to continue."
Flores, a 2009 Frontier and Washington State Community College graduate who's now a senior at Marymount Manhattan College, encouraged students in his sessions to start working now toward success after high school.
"Anything after today should be about working toward that," he said. "You have that opportunity now to start working, and that's really exciting."
Flores, now rehearsing for a Broadway play, said he wishes he had been less weighed down in "high school negativity" as a student and more focused on acting and creating art.
On Wednesday, he led students through some acting warm-up exercises and had a few try their hand at improvisation.
"I want to expose you all to art," he said. "Moving people, affecting people, it's all art."
As Flores shared his acting experiences, former classmate Chute, now an Ohio University student, shared photos and stories from a quarter spent in Mexico.
"That's something most students would never even imagine they would get to do," said Cunningham.
Chute shared tales of the food, the people and the sites, including Mayan ruins deep in the jungle.
"There was no civilization anywhere to be seen," she said. "It was quite the bus ride."
The presentations each year bring a lot of awareness to Frontier's students, said senior Cameron Wolfe, 17.
"I think it opens people's eyes that there is more than the Mid-Ohio Valley," she said. "I know when I was younger I didn't think outside the box. Now we know we can do anything we want to do."
Senior Katherine Terrell, 17, said she plans to attend a four-year college and hopes all of her classmates go further than obtaining their high school diplomas.
"It's important to get a degree or learn some kind of skills to be prepared for life," she said. "Even if you don't go to college, going into these times you need some kind of formal education."
Wolfe said a session on financial aid particularly piqued her interest.
"I've always felt like (money) has limited me in my options," she said. "It's nice to know that in some way, shape or form I can afford to go to college."