Manassas Journal Messenger | Parkside students ponder careers

Television phenomenon “American Idol” may focus on talent and charisma, but former contestant Travis Tucker sees education as an invaluable key to success.

Tucker spoke to students at his former middle school, Parkside, during career day Thursday.

“You always want to have that security net beneath you,” said Tucker, who plans to continue his studies as an education major at the University of Virginia.

Tucker and representatives from various professions spoke to about 427 eighth-grade students who rotated among information sessions. Professionals, including a mechanic, modeling agent, forensic scientist and veterinarian, led different sessions, of which students chose to attend three.

The goal is to encourage students to start thinking about and planning for their futures.

“We are constantly trying to reiterate to our students that the choices they make today will affect their futures, and that they must be dedicated and hard-working to achieve success,” said Michele Mastrovito, world history teacher.

Before crooning pitch-perfect renditions of Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” and Usher’s “Confessions” in a music entertainment session, Tucker told students that even if they did succeed in entertainment, they needed to be educated business managers and know the industry from the production and financial end.

After each session, he signed a bevy of autographs after being mobbed by anxious autograph seekers — both young and employed.

“I still don’t know why people want my name,” Tucker said. “I’m still the same old Travis if you ask me.”

Some students were surprised by what they learned in some of the sessions.

Jordan English, 13, attended sessions led by a law enforcement official, a lawyer and a cosmetologist. She was considering pursuing a career in law, but a cosmetology class with hair models and a stylist piqued her interest.

“When you actually get to see an example, that was pretty interesting,” said Jordan, while listening to cosmetologist and family and consumer science teacher Lorraine Morales explain styling techniques.

Some speakers were surprised by the students’ level of maturity and interest.

Master Deputy Tony Overstreet, who works in the fugitive division of the Prince William County Sheriff’s Office, said many students were concerned about school safety.

“Matter of fact, some questions I would expect to come from a group of adults,” Overstreet said.


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