TULALIP — The second annual Opportunity Expo saw a surge of attendees in the morning followed by relatively sparser crowds later in the day on Tuesday, April 16, but Marysville School District officials and students from a number of different districts touted the value of the event’s offerings.
“We received about 500 students for our morning reception, which was more than we expected,” said Jodi Runyon, executive assistant to the superintendent of the Marysville School District, who estimated that approximately 1,500 visitors stopped by throughout the day, from Marysville and other school districts. “We were a bit disappointed at the afternoon’s turnout, which probably saw about 100 people. We might be rethinking that portion of the event, although we haven’t had a chance to debrief yet, so no decisions have been made.”
The Marysville School District bused all 11th-grade students from all eight high schools to either the 8 a.m. or noon sessions in the Tulalip Resort Orca and Chinook ballrooms, while the 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. sessions were designated for other school districts. Students in grades 8, 9, 10 and 12 were encouraged to attend between 2:30-4:30 p.m. with their parents, but Runyon acknowledged that these hours could prove challenging for working parents.
Marysville’s Karen Totten made it that afternoon with her eighth-grade daughter Leanna, and they both learned a great deal about the options available to Leanna.
“I didn’t know there were this many colleges,” laughed Leanna Totten, who is considering careers in psychology or social work because she wants to help people.
“Seeing something like this right before she starts high school not only helps her plan which colleges she might want to attend, but which classes she should take in high school to get there,” Karen Totten said.
Kalob Boston had attended the Opportunity Expo earlier in the day with his fellow Marysville 11th-graders, but he came back with his mom Amy to continue checking out its selection.
“Each booth had its own completely different feel,” said Kalob Boston, who is weighing engineering, chemistry and computer programming as career options. “But they all had information on what I needed to do to prepare.”
“I had no idea what to do for him, so this was really helpful for me as well,” Amy Boston said. “Everyone was really easy to talk to.”
Not only was eighth-grader Faith Verburg able to explore options beyond her tentative preference for nursing as a career, but so too was her mother Jennifer able to find programs that would help her complete her own career goal of becoming a certified nutritionist. Likewise, 11th-graders Emily Romeis of Lakewood and Sierra Reed of Lake Stevens consulted with college representatives who advised them how they should proceed given that they’ll both graduate high school with the equivalents of associate’s degrees.
“It’s nice to have someone help you figure out how long different degrees would take to get,” Romeis said.
“There’s a lot of different paths that are available here,” Reed said. “I’d definitely recommend it.”
Marysville School District Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland deemed the Opportunity Expo in keeping with the district’s goals of success for students in a variety of career paths, and echoed Runyon in crediting the partnerships between the district, the Tulalip Tribes and the Marysville Rotary with making the event possible.
“The entire community comes together through this Opportunity Expo to communicate the importance of education to these young people.”