Fifth annual Eighth Grade Career Fair set for May 13 at Tennessee Tech

HIGHLANDS – Approximately 1,300 eighth grade students from Jackson, Putnam, Van Buren and White counties will attend the fifth annual Highlands Eighth Grade Career Fair from 9 a.m.-2:15 p.m. Tuesday, May 13, at Tennessee Tech University’s Hooper-Eblen Center.

The event, organized by the Highlands Workforce Development and Education committee, has a goal to groom and grow the workforce of tomorrow by providing access to career exploration today. Students will have opportunities to interact with professionals from various occupations and realize the necessity of continuing and completing their education.

“Some students consider dropping out of school long before their senior year, and we know that,” said Lynda Breeden, career fair committee chair. “We hope the career fair will make a real-world connection to the high school courses eighth graders are choosing as they transition from middle school and motivate them to work hard.

“Earlier and earlier it is essential students know that the fastest growing jobs will require some type of post-secondary education,” Breeden added. “Higher levels of education are vital to their ability to compete in a global market and thrive as adults.”

During the fair, students will visit booths set up in the concourse to gather information about various professions. They will be able to choose from 11 breakout sessions with speakers in their areas of interest.

Tennessee Tech head football coach Watson Brown and Tech head women’s basketball coach Jim Davis will serve as keynote speakers for the morning and afternoon sessions, respectively.

Other guest speakers for the fair will be Mohan Rao, STEM; Kristine Craven, STEM; Emma and Jonathan Casey, human services; Sparta Police Chief Jeff Guth, Trooper Darryl Winningham, Lt. Jimmy Neal and Lt. R.C. Christian, law/public safety; Kim Frick-Welker, arts and communications; Kim Montgomery, health science; Denette Kolbe, education and training; Kate Spears, arts and communications; Jesse Bunch, information technology; Christy Kinnaird, health science; Angie Smith and Jill Horner, human services.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for young students in the Highlands region to get informed and get excited about how their successes in the classroom can translate into real world jobs and careers,” Bob Bell, Workforce Development and Education Steering Committee chairman, said. “We encourage speakers and booth sponsors to help bridge the gap and make a connection between education and career success by providing attendees with detailed job information that includes specific duties, pay scale, and education and training requirements.”

The Highlands Workforce Development and Education Committee is part of the Highlands Economic Partnership – the former Highlands Initiative – and is composed of business and education leaders of the Highlands area of Jackson, Overton, Putnam and White counties. The Highlands Economic Partnership, launched in 2006 by the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, is a collaborative, public/private sector program designed to boost economic and community development.

For more information about the Highlands Eighth Grade Career Fair, contact Beth Johnson at (931) 526-2211 or

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