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Pepper Ridge Elementary Students Look to the Future

BLOOMINGTON - Do you remember when you were in fifth grade?
BLOOMINGTON - Do you remember when you were in fifth grade?

Maybe you wanted to an astronaut or a Major League Baseball player. Now, some Bloomington elementary students are learning it's never too early to consider how they want to spend their futures.

The future seems far away for this group of Pepper Ridge Elementary fifth graders, but on this day, they're considering careers and how they can start preparing now for life after high school.

Grant Kessinger is especially excited to learn about the automotive world. It’s one that his siblings have been part of for a while.

"My brother, he's a mechanic and I saw him working on his Trans-Am in our garage, and I thought it was really cool," said Kessinger.

It’s a chance for students to check tire pressure, or look under the hood of a car, and that’s just the beginning.

With a few culinary lessons, medical investigations, and more, the possibilities seem enormous.

"I got to see some stuff from automotive and cars and to see different organs," said fifth grader Angelo Bernal.

It's all part of the school's push to get kids thinking about their futures.

“We had kids in full firefighter gear, we've had kids cooking, and we've had kids checking tire pressure," said Mroz.

Teacher Jeff Mroz says many of these kids could be first-generation college students.

And it echoes the three-year-old program’s tagline, “Opening doors, the future is yours.”

"You can see it from day one to the end, when they go to junior high, they're looking at different class options," said Mroz.

For current career center students like Lexington junior Carlye Hardman, the chance to encourage these students is fun for her.

"I just like knowing that what I learn from here can help them learn in a smaller form," said Hardman.

"Some of them were explaining to us how they have family events and that they have their own family contests, making their own cupcakes and their own pies," said Maidi McDaniel, a junior at Clinton High School.

Seeing these kids excited and working toward their goals so early on gives their instructors a reason to smile.

"Their eyes light up and they came back and there's just this huge excitement about what's out there and what they can do," said Mroz.

The career readiness program at Bloomington brings in kids from all over the area. Students there are eligible to begin taking classes during their junior year of high school.

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