New Grand Ridge program introduces 8th graders to careers

Students receive visits from radiologists, state troopers, conservation police

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Officer Kyle Behrens speaks to Annika Cadegiani's class about his career Friday, May 3, 2024, at Grand Ridge Grade School.

Grand Ridge eighth graders have had radiologists bring X-rays to their classroom, state police troopers introduce K-9s and a conservation officer show off his patrol boat – all within the past few weeks.

The students are getting a window into the real world.

Teacher Annika Cadegiani is leading the Illinois Postsecondary and Career Expectations program at the school. The program individualizes learning plans to help students think about their future careers, exposing them to what may be interesting and allowing them to focus their study plan in high school and beyond.

Students completed a survey to determine what jobs may interest them, Cadegiani said. She then utilized the data to organize “career day” visits from professionals. Students also will get to visit the Naplate glass factory.

Eighth grader Leah Long said she’s gaining more from the in-person visits than reading about the career in a textbook.

“It’s a lot different,” Long said. “You can ask questions of them when they are in person.”

Students had a number of questions for Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Officer Kyle Behrens, ranging from how he chose his career, his professional training, to what he liked best about the job and any strange encounters he’s had.

“What I like best is I get to work outside everyday,” Behrens told students. He added conservation officers focus on promoting boating and hunting safety, on top of being a full-fledged law enforcement officer.

Students were thrilled when Behrens led them outside to check out his patrol boat, firing up the loud motor for them.

Cadegiani said students have been enthusiastic with each professional visit and they have asked engaging questions.

“It’s been a lot of fun so far,” Cadegiani said. “We’re really appreciative of the professionals who have shared with us and we hope it’s helping give students an idea of what they want to be, or at least getting them to think about it and ask some questions.”

Eighth graders in the Illinois Postsecondary and Career Expectations program at Grand Ridge Grade School pose in front of Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Officer Kyle Behrens on Friday, May 3, 2024, after he spoke to them about his career.
Have a Question about this article?