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OHS Students Attend Fire Expo

Thirty Oxford High School students attended a hands-on expo at Oxford Fire Department on Jan. 11 to help them determine if a career in firefighting is in their future. Hands-on stations included EMS, pumper and equipment, special ops, and turnout/SBCA. Students also observed special ops rescue, vehicle extraction, and structural firefighting scenarios at the training center. The expo is a product of the work between Oxford City Schools Career Coach, Vikki Sturkie, and Chief Gary Sparks and his team at Oxford Fire.

Oxford City Schools Superintendent, Dr. Shannon Stanley, emphasized the importance of this collaboration, saying, “The partnership we have with the City of Oxford and Oxford Fire allows us to provide students with activities like the expo to give students a deeper understanding of what occupations and professions are available at home.”

The goal of the expo is to recruit candidates to participate in the Oxford High Fire Academy during their senior years. The academy, led by Lt. Kyle Benson of Oxford Fire, is part of the Career Tech pathway at the high school and is designed to give students a head start on their careers. Upon completion of the program and graduation, the candidates have the option to enter a bridge program where they can become fully certified firefighters in just five weeks.

“In the past, we’ve recruited at the high school using a lecture-style approach. This year, we’re taking it to the next level by creating an expo that allows students to see the facility, interact with emergency service professionals and experience a day in the life of emergency services,” says Lt. Benson.

The new approach by Oxford Fire coincides with the new approach Oxford City Schools is taking by using data generated from the aptitude program, YouScience, to better serve students during course advisement.

“YouScience data allowed Mrs. Sturkie to identify students with not only an interest in a firefighting-related career but also those with an aptitude for such work. From this we believe a well-informed cohort of students will choose to enroll in the fire college program for the 2023-24 school year,” says Marty Livingston, Oxford City Schools director of career tech education and student programs.

YouScience results are being used to advise all students about their educational pathway options. Oxford High School has career tech pathways for health sciences/nursing, TV production, engineering, marketing, modern manufacturing, firefighting, photography, and graphic arts.