200 students participate in 14th Sophomore Summit

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BENNINGTON — Over 200 high school sophomores got a taste of some of the choices they will face upon graduation on Monday at the 14th annual Bennington County Sophomore Summit.

The students, from Arlington Memorial High School, Burr and Burton Academy, The Long Trail School, Mount Anthony Union High School, and the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center each attended two smaller workshops with local professionals in the morning, then one large workshop in the afternoon. The students also had lunch on campus.

The morning workshops were divided by field. The Agriculture, Environment, and Forestry workshop, for example, featured Monty Walker of the Bennington Fish Hatchery and Liz Ruffa of Northshire Grows. Other notable panelists included Andrew McKeever, of Greater Northshire Access Television and former editor of the Manchester Journal; Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Matthew Harrington; Dimitri Garder, founder of Global-Z International and director of The Lightning Jar; Nick Disorda, chef and owner of North Bennington's Pangaea restaurant; Scott Sanfilippo, owner of DiBuono Ravioli; Bennington College mathematics and science professor and North Bennington Prudential Committee member Tim Schroeder, Bennington Select Board member and regional director of the Vermont Land Trust Donald Campbell; Jason Dolmetsch, president of MSK Engineering; and many more.

The keynote speaker for the event, for the second straight year, was Mat Barewicz, information chief at the Vermont Department of Labor.

During registration, students answer questions about their career preferences, and are recommended fields that go along with those preferences. Each student chooses their top three choices of fields they might be interested in. While each can only attend two workshops, Kristen Kimball, Mount Anthony's school to work coordinator and one of the event's organizers, said that typically every student was able to attend either their first or second choice.

During the final workshop, Wendy Morse of the Department of Labor, one of the organizers of Bennington County Career Month, told the students, "Education pays off, and the more education and training you have, of any type, the higher your chances of staying employed and, studies show, the more money you'll make."

Fellow Career Month organizer Jeannie Jenkins, representing the Community College of Vermont, echoed Morse's message. "The more education you have, the more experiences you have, the more opportunities you'll have."

The students also heard from Staff Sergeant Mark Slade and Sergeant Erynn Hazlett of the Vermont National Guard and Becky Dansereau of the Department of Labor's internship program.

This year's summit was organized by representatives from the five schools, CCV, VDOL, and the Bennington County Regional Commission, and was sponsored by Bennington College and the Town of Bennington.

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.

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