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Draper Journal

Students told to follow their passions for possible professions at career day

Feb 04, 2019 10:53AM ● By Julie Slama

Acrobat Lance Nielsen demonstrates a handstand to first-graders at Draper Elementary’s Career Day. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

By the time Lance Nielsen was done talking to a room full of first-graders, most of them wanted to join the circus.

The acrobat and Aerobatics Circus Center owner turned his passion of gymnastics and diving into a career and shared the message with Draper Elementary students during the school’s Career Day.

“I took what I loved and turned it into a career,” he said. “It’s not a job, but something I love to do and I get to do it every day.”

Nielsen was one of about 20 speakers lined up for students to hear the last day of November.

“There are so many amazing parents here who answered our call to speak about their careers and we have such diversity we’re introducing to children,” said organizer Chris Morgan. “Students already are learning soft skills at school such as punctuality, working with others, listening, communicating, problem solving, that this is a way they can learn how those skills along with math, reading, science and more can translate into careers.”

Nielsen, who was a diver at the Mayan restaurant before it closed and was an acrobat during Utah Jazz and Utah Blaze games, didn’t realize he could make his love for those sports turn into a career.

However, Nielsen told students it’s just getting out there to perform. First, he uses math to ensure he performs the stunt in the right amount of space. He also ensures the equipment he’s using is safe and not in need of repair. He also studied muscles and how to maintain his health.

“Just as a car needs gas, I need to eat healthy so I’m strong,” he said. “It takes a lot of practice and discipline. School teaches discipline and focus so it’s important you do what is taught and expected, because learning those skills can take you far in any career.”

First-grader Amelia Ray, who has a small white and gray spotted dog named Rainy, may have been the only one who didn’t raise her hand wanting to be an acrobat.

“(The acrobat is) really flexible, can do some cool tricks and he’s really disciplined,” she said. “I want to be a dogsitter when I’m older.”

First-grade teacher Aimee Anderson said Career Day is beneficial, even to 6-year-olds.

“This gives them great exposure to careers, some of which they may not have known existed,” she said. “We also learn how many of them help our community, which we will study next week.”

Carpenter Nathan Hampton told other students how math was important, how carpenters are in demand in the workforce and how a general knowledge of construction is good for everyone to know. Then, he challenged them to use their skills to build a tower.

Teacher Sarah Roberts said students may know about construction as a career, but not that carpentry is a specialty.

“He can touch so many people through his work and they may not realize it,” she said. “This allows them to expand their minds how what they’re studying applies to career options.”

Physical therapist Stephen Francis asked students to stand on one foot. 

“If you have problems with hearing, you could have trouble with balance,” he said. “Sometimes, people don’t relate the two things. Balance even affects you when a car takes off too fast.”

Although Francis said he enjoys his career, he suggested students try different things as they grow up to find something they love and then work hard to succeed.

That, in a sense, is what Amy Balls did. She took her love of mountain climbing and skiing and children to become a climbing coach and a ski team instructor.

“I moved here and turned what I enjoy and do with my kids into fun jobs,” she said. “I teach the basic skills for them to climb or to be on the ski team and it results in kids gaining confidence in themselves.”

Fourth-grader Brody Zarbock said he appreciated learning about playing violin and teaching orchestra from Vanessa Crowshaw, but also listened keenly to the labor and delivery nurse, Lindsay Hickok, as he may want to become a doctor.

Classmate Drew Crowshaw said he learned all about procurement from Paul England, but also learned it’s good to do what he likes.

“I hadn’t thought of a career like his,” Drew said. “But I think I want to be like my dad, a businessman.”

Oak Hollow also held its Career Day on Dec. 7. Willow Springs plans to hold its career day on April 19.