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High School Career Center Helps Students Find a First Job, College, and Career

Down the hall from the counseling center at North Tonawanda High School is a room dedicated to helping high school students answer the age-old question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Mrs. Graves
With its bank of computers and library of print resources, the career center offers students a dedicated space to do online and print research about colleges, majors, job opportunities and careers. 

“The career center is almost like the library of the counseling center,” said Lori Graves, career center director.

Under the direction of the counseling center, the career center offers students the opportunity to research careers, colleges and scholarships.

When career center director Marion Maziarz retired in January, Mrs. Graves left her teacher aide position to become the new director. Except for a three-year span when she earned her degree, Mrs. Graves has worked for the district as an aide and in the community education program since 1998.

“Mrs. Graves is so energetic. Since she has worked in the school district, she was able to step right into this role. She’s absolutely amazing,” said Melissa Giles, high school counselor and department coordinator.  

Career speakers are invited to the school based on a career survey that all high school students take each fall. Mrs. Graves uses the survey results to tabulate the most popular job choices listed and then arranges for a speaker on those topics.

She also works with college admission offices to have them visit the school.

Having guest speakers and college admission officials at school is ideal, but students can find it hard to fit one more thing into their busy schedules. Mrs. Graves tries to schedule some presentations during the lunch periods from 10:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

She also works with various teachers to bring the guest speakers into a class. A session in the spring of 2015 on interview skills during an Academy of Finance class was given by Becky Restorff-Billi from Wegman’s who gave students numerous tips on filling out applications, interviewing, researching a company and following up after the interview with a thank you note. 

In the hallway outside the career center, brightly colored signs announce upcoming sessions. Students can also sign up for Remind101 notifications and sessions are announced in the mornings.

“We are trying to get more students down to use the resources for college preparation and job opportunities,” said Mrs. Graves, adding that she plans to offer group sessions for students in the fall and winter next school year.