Career Fairs Provide Game-Changing Options for Students at Camelot’s Excel Academies in Philadelphia
For many of the students attending Camelot Education’s Excel Academy South, life can often be a difficult maze of day-to-day challenges. Excel Academy South, part of the School District of Philadelphia’s Opportunity Network is an accelerated high school for 16 to 21-year-old students who are, for various reasons, behind in their studies. The program offers an extended day where students can earn up to five credits per semester and 10 credits per year. This allows students to graduate in 2.5 years or less. Excel Academy is dedicated to creating a nurturing, academically rigorous, and safe environment for all students to thrive.
All graduates of Camelot Education’s Excel Academies are required to have a post-secondary plan in place before receiving their diploma. The Fall Semester Career Fairs hosted by Excel South and Excel North are a great opportunity for the students to talk with representatives from several colleges, universities, and trade schools or to learn about career options in the military. The career fairs help students and their families make informed decisions.
“Our big push here is to really prepare our young people for life after graduating high school, and a major p art of that involves getting them into contact with representatives from universities or trade schools. Some of them are more interested in life in the military,” said Erin Kelly, director of student services. Kelly, who has been with Camelot Education for 12 years, said the career fair was not just open to students, but they welcomed parents to explore the many options available.
Representatives from Penn State were at the school, along with Community College of Philadelphia, Manor College, the Automotive Training Center, and Universal Technical Institute as well as career representatives from the United States Army, Marine Corps, and National Guard. Kelly said many of Excel Academy South’s students have only ever attended a career fair while enrolled in a Camelot Education school, and for many, this was their first.
“Many families would not know to take advantage of these kinds of events. For our students, many of them have never attended anything like it. Our students come to us because they fell off the school track for some reason, and they, along with their parents, find these events to be of great benefit,” Kelly said. “We want to jump-start their future planning early in the school year, so we host the career fair as soon as possible in the school year. Then we follow up the career fair with field trips to college, university, and technical campuses, and we continue to invite recruiters to speak with our students. The more they know, the more they dream – the better.”
“As staff and teachers, we can talk to our students all of the time about what opportunities are open to them and what life can offer them, but for them to actually see it and be able to speak with people outside of our school, who have an interest in helping them succeed, is different. They start to see what can happen for them – how their life can evolve into something great. They start to believe in themselves, and that’s crucial. Some of them begin recruitment with the armed forces or take those first steps to entering college. It helps them to see that they’re not limited in their options, and that’s very important.”
Kevin Marx, executive director of Excel Academy North, said his school’s career fair is scheduled for November 21st. This will present another opportunity for students and parents to investigate options for their future. Last year, 15 different colleges and universities, the military, trade schools, and businesses came out to speak with students, many of whom filled out applications.
“For students that have been through a traumatic experience or who have had a difficult start in life, being able to participate in an event like this is a game changer,” Marx said. “It gets them thinking about a plan for their future, and we help them develop those plans throughout the year. Last year’s fair was a great success. It’s not just universities or trade schools; we even had several local businesses in attendance and students were filling out applications. The whole purpose is to not just talk about what’s available to them but to actually show them.”