MARIETTA - Although the topics addressed weren't confined to the workplace, everything about the Washington County Career Center's Youth Safety Day Wednesday tied back in to employment.
"Think about what you want an employer to see," career center chief information officer Jerry Bradford told students about communicating online during a session on cyberbullying.
Bradford told students that more and more employers are checking out prospective employees' Facebook pages and social media activity as well as their resumes.
Photo by Evan Bevins
Washington County Career Center juniors discuss strategies to deal with bullies during a presentation on cyberbullying Wednesday as part of the center’s fifth annual Youth Safety Day.
How a person conducts himself or herself online, even if responding to a cyberbully rather than being one, could be a factor in determining whether the person gets a job. Bradford advised students to respond to bullies with strategies like walking away, notifying an adult or confronting them non-violently, whether online or off.
"Find some way to address this professionally," he said. "We always want to be professionals."
Being a good employee means being a healthy one "both physically and mentally," said Steve Porter, transition and placement coordinator at the career center. That's why the event, held for juniors in collaboration with the Mid-Ohio Valley Safety Council and the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, included sessions on nutrition, fitness and drug abuse.
"We see this as an opportunity to bring area businesses and our school together to reinforce safety, whether it be going to work or school, on the job or at home," said Porter.
Washington County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Mark Warden shared stories of people whose lives had been turned upside down by drug abuse, including a young man who stole to fund his heroin habit after becoming addicted when a friend pressured him to try the drug and an 18-year-old who broke down in tears when his father's truck was seized over a drug deal that made him $50.
Haleigh Hendershot, a junior from Fort Frye High School, said that session stood out to her, especially Warden's sharing of his contact information with students.
"I know there are a lot of people I know that do (drugs)," she said. "The way he acted, if they ever tried to get me to do it, I know I could call him and count on him."
Another session that made an impression on students featured two Washington County Jail inmates discussing how substance abuse and other bad decisions impacted their lives.
"(One) was a father and a grandfather, and it kind of amazed me how anyone can get hooked on alcohol," said Sarah Sargent, a junior from Fort Frye.
Brittany Francis, a junior from Marietta High School, said both men appeared genuinely remorseful.
"They both seemed like sweethearts. I think they will turn it around," she said.
Elsewhere, David Farley, with CSX community affairs and safety, warned students to resist the temptation of going around railroad gates if they're in a hurry, telling them it was the same thing as running a red light.
"Police officer catches you, that's a bad day. But even more catastrophic is if you (pull out) in front of a train," he said.
Knowing a train always has the right of way because it can't slow down quickly or swerve can be important for a student who becomes a police officer or firefighter, Farley said. He also reminded students that there are placards at railroad crossings bearing a phone number people can call to report problems on the tracks.
In another classroom, Lang's Outdoor Power Equipment owner Doug Lang told students about how to safely use items like lawnmowers, chainsaws and weed trimmers.
"I feel like what I've got to say can make a difference," Lang said of why he has participated in Youth Safety Day for multiple years. "Every piece of equipment has a danger point to it. You need to respect the equipment."