BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - What do you want to be when you grow up? Columbia Middle School students had the opportunity to interact with local professionals during the recent bi-annual Career Day enrichment program presented by the Columbia Middle School PTO.  

The students attended three different sessions out of the 40 workshops set up throughout the school. They gained insight into what a day in a life of professionals may be like, what was their educational background, what training is involved, and what they find rewarding about their jobs. The students were able ask questions, participate in hands-on activities and start thinking about their futures.

How does ABC7NY Traffic Reporter Heather O'Rourke receive her information to report each morning, how does she know where to point on the "Green Screen" and what time does she have to get up every morning to be on the air by 5 a.m.? O'Rourke walked through her career path and how she ended up as a broadcaster for a major network.

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Students learned agility from fitness trainer Matt Carbone of Gabriele Fitness and Performance; Self Defense tactics from Darren DeMarco of White Tiger Dojo; and fencing. There were also yoga, sign language and theater workshops. Medical professionals walked through simulated procedures and  Murray Hill Vets showed X-rays of different injuries they encounter. Graphic artists and computer tech engineers shared their expertise. Bridget Neigel, owner a Rita's Ice, was a crowd pleaser handing out a tasting of their ice leaving you with their catchy jingle stuck in your head.  

Chris Pierce from the Jets satisfied the sports enthusiast's inquiries, while Anthony DeFranco sparked their inner athlete talking about his experience training for the American Ninja competition. Tim Quigley of the Daily Show gave the students a glimpse behind the scenes of TV production.

The Union County Bomb Squad, Berkeley Heights Police, Fire and Rescue Squad each were stationed outside with full apparatus on display. 

These middle school students were left with optimism and grand expectations for their future.

The professionals were treated to a luncheon hosted by the PTO, giving them the opportunity to mingle with the other professionals prior to leading their workshops.

PTO programs such as this enrichment program are made possible by the work of PTO parent volunteers.  Student based educational programs, teacher grants and "Gifts to the School" are funded through the generosity of our member families, said Columbia Middle School president Angela Penna.