Wyoming-area Students will ‘Shadow’ Professionals on Groundhog Day

Phil the groundhogBy Victoria Mullen


Punxsutawyney Phil isn’t the only one who will emerge with great expectations on Groundhog Day.*


On February 2nd, area high school students will participate in Groundhog Shadow Day 2016 (#GSD16), an event that allows young people to follow (aka ‘shadow’) professional mentors at a number of local workplaces.


Sponsored by Kent Intermediate School District (Kent ISD) Career Readiness, students will get an overview of their selected company’s industry, the day-to-day operations of specific departments, positions available and requirements for successful employment, such as level of education, career pathways and the like.


“The event gives students the opportunity to ‘pull back the curtain’ on the world of work and to experience ‘a day in the life’ at a job that interests them,” said Amy Pierce, Kent ISD Career Exploration Coordinator – Engineering, Advanced Manufacturing, and Construction, who spearheads the event. “Last year 143 students participated; this year we are poised to have 269 students at 45 companies mentoring under 136 community members.”


In 2015, 87.5% of participating students said that the event increased their understanding of career options. Some found that they are already on the right track to pursue the career field that they shadowed. Many made connections that they believe will prove beneficial later on.


“My career aspirations were further strengthened, and I am more confident about how I will go about pursuing these goals,” said one student.


“I learned that my career field is very team based, which IShadow day like,” said another.


A third student replied, “I really like how ‘real’ it was. It wasn’t like the TV shows that center around a profession; this was a real-life experience.”


This year, students will explore such fields as Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; Architecture and Construction; Arts, A/V Technology and Communications; Marketing; Finance; Health Sciences; Engineering; Business Management and Administration and many more.


“The aim is to help students make educated decisions as they contemplate their post-secondary career and academic choices,” said Pierce.



There will be opportunities to interact with a variety of professionals with different levels of responsibility, education and experience, and students may engage in a hands-on activity or demonstration that reflects the skills needed in that sector. Also on the docket is a preview of current or recent projects so that the students can understand some of the potential work demands required.


Participating organizations and businesses include John Ball Zoo, Spectrum Health, Erhardt Construction, FOX 17, City of Grand Rapids; Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW), Resurrection Life Church, Priority Health, Grandville Public Schools, Grand Rapids Urban League, West Michigan Flight Academy, Amway, Steelcase and others.


*You know the drill: Each year on February 2, Phil emerges from his temporary home on Gobbler’s Knob, located in a rural area about 2 miles (3.2 km) east of the town of Punxsutawyney (do not ask me how to pronounce that). According to tradition, if Phil sees his shadow and returns to his hole, he has predicted six more weeks of winter-like weather. (What is not clear is what happens if Phil does not return to his hole.) However, if Phil does not see his shadow, he has predicted an “early spring.” The date of Phil’s prognostication is known as Groundhog Day in the United States and Canada, and has been celebrated since 1887. Source.


It’s win-win, kids. Hidden in the fabric of the lore is the fact that the first day of spring is March 20, which is nearly eight weeks from February 2. So, people complaining about Phil seeing his shadow should just chill. If he sees his shadow, spring is still early by nearly two weeks. If he doesn’t see his shadow, we’ll have an early spring, although just how early is not specified. Even Phil has his limits.


Either way, it’s an early spring.