PATERSON, NJ- Students in second through eighth grades at Public School 10 had an opportunity to catch a glimpse of their future recently, coming face to face with a number professionals, from educators to engineers, medical professionals to public safety workers.
The event, held on Thursday, May 31, was the school’s 11th annual with the National Junior Honor Society playing an important role in organizing the day-long event each year. Under the watchful eye of guidance counselor Karen Patterson and third grade teacher Audrey Wilson, students helped to schedule the day's events, provided food and refreshments, and ushered the visiting career professionals to each classroom.
Saying that it is a “really great team effort,” to put the program on, Superintendent Eileen Shafer told TAPinto Paterson that she spoke to a number of classes and that the “students asked very good questions about skills and education needed” to obtain the jobs of those they heard from.
Among those who attended to share their experience was Passaic County Freeholder Assad Akhter.
Akhter was escorted through the school by seventh grader Christopher Guzman who said he was excited to take on the role because he also hopes to have a career in politics someday.
Akhter, a former aide to US Congressman Pascrell, also works at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center and spent much of his time educating the children about his role on the county’s legislative body while instilling the importance of voting.
“You should never let anyone else tell you who should make the decisions. The people decide who are our leaders with their votes. Any one of you could be a mayor, any one of you could be a freeholder, that’s why we should all vote,” Akhter told the students. “That’s what makes America special, because you decide.”
Assistant Passaic County Prosecutor Jennifer Virola also spoke, advising the students on the importance of building relationships. “While working your way in the world be sure to make connections with everyone you meet. It doesn’t matter if it’s your pastor, your teacher, or someone in the grocery store. You never know who may be able to help you in your career, you never know who you may have an impact on and maybe you can help each other.
“Be sure to keep on going, go work on internships, just keep pushing forward. Do not be afraid to ask for help, people want to help you,” Virola offered.
Taking a different approach by advising the students to consider the long term effects of their actions, Assistant Passaic County Prosecutor and Detective Kyle Mastropole said that he’s “seen kids ruin their entire lives with some of the most horrible decisions that have them end up in juvenile detention centers.”
Social media, he warned, “has a huge impact and you really must be careful what you post.”
Referring to ill-advised social media posts in the wake of recent school tragedies, Mastropole said that “some kids make stupid mistakes, posting stuff jokingly but it can really be taken seriously. Once they get in the system it's hard to get out because you develop a bad reputation and, sadly enough, it sticks with you.”
Also speaking was long time Paterson resident, and now acclaimed author and entrepreneur Cornelius Kinchen. His bestselling books "Ghetto Legend Graduate” is relatable to the students because it’s about growing up on "the mean streets of Paterson."
"It's not easy for kids to make it out of the streets these days. I just hope to inspire everyone to love more and to unite for their community,” Kinchen told TAPinto Paterson.
“Cornelius is a true inspiration,” Patterson, who taught him at School 6, said. “It is so gratifying to see my students grow up to become successful.”