COLONIE -- Anya Afridi looks up to pediatricians and doctors in her family. They’ve influenced her so much that she wants to become a pediatrician when she grows up.
For now though, the future 7th grader is excited for Friday, when she’ll be exposed to workshops to get her ready for that career.
Since Monday, Afridi and 14 of her peers from middle schools in Niskayuna and Schalmont have been attending the Capital Region BOCES’ first-ever 7th, 8th and 9th grade Summer Camp. By the time Friday afternoon arrives, the 15 students will have spent a full day exploring internet applications, culinary, carpentry, automotive and nursing careers, just five of the 24 programs BOCES offers high school students.
The participants were selected to attend the free summer camp after school counselors identified them as students who might be interested in BOCES’ offerings.
“We need to reach out and let kids know that these programs exist,” said Capital Region BOCES Principal Chuck Paravella. “This allows their decision [to join in high school] to become that much more solid.”
Paravella said this is the first summer camp he’s seen for younger students to get a glimpse into what they can do in their junior and senior years of high school. He said the camp was established with the purpose of informing younger kids that careers like these exist and to inspire them to pursue them after high school. He hopes the camp molds future “employable citizens.”
Soon-to-be 8th grader Angella Chen is one of the students who is already set on where she sees herself. Chen, who wants to pursue a career in design and engineering, was most excited for the first two days of the week. On Monday, she worked with Adobe Illustrator to design socks and buttons. On Tuesday, she made some pasta and sauce from scratch.
“Because I like food,” Chen joked.
Rising 9th grader Anthony DiMascio is looking forward to BOCES’ Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH, program which he will be a part of next academic year. He was excited for many of this week’s opportunities, especially the automotive and graphic design days. He said he’s now more excited about graphic design.
“This was a good example of how it would work.” DiMascio said. “It wasn’t forced, we got to create whatever we wanted to.”
While culinary arts instructor Chef Mark Brucker normally works with the 11th and 12th graders during the school year, he was excited to so with the “enthusiastic” middle schoolers on Tuesday. He not only taught the kids how to make pasta and sauce but also provided them with advice about kitchen safety.
Brucker said it may be hard for some kids to set the table or prepare dinner with families, so it’s nice to see them learn these skills.
“It might not be something they want to do for a living, but it’s a life skill,” Brucker said. “I hope they leave with a bit of knowledge.”
Paravella said he would love to see the camp continue after this year and that he hopes to extend its offerings beyond the five existing programs.
“I hope they are excited about learning, seeing options… and attending here in the future,” Paravella said.