Annual event introduces students to career possibilities
Students Exploring Career Opportunities (SECO), an interactive career expo for Central Louisiana tenth grade students, was held November 20 and 21 at the Randolph Riverfront Center. This is the sixth SECO event presented by The Orchard Foundation, The Rapides Foundation and the nine public school districts in Central Louisiana.
View the 2019 SECO Photo Gallery
SECO is designed to introduce students to career possibilities and allows participants to experience simulations and hands-on activities at a variety of stations staffed by area businesses. The goal is to foster student engagement and ultimately spark an interest in future careers.
Over the two-day period, almost 2,800 students from 56 public and private schools within nine Central Louisiana parishes attended the SECO expo. Participating parishes were Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn. The event is funded by The Rapides Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, Capital One, Sam’s Club, Walmart Neighborhood Market in Alexandria, Super 1 Foods in Alexandria, and St. Romain Oil Company.
Marjorie Taylor, Executive Director of The Orchard Foundation, explained the purpose of SECO is to allow tenth grade students to learn about different career opportunities available in Central Louisiana and the requirements of those careers, so they will be better informed to choose a path into the workforce. “In the tenth grade, students have to make a very important decision that affects the rest of their high school career. They have to decide if they’re going to pursue the University diploma when they graduate or if they want to go directly into the workforce,” Taylor said.
Tenth grade students must choose to pursue the TOPS University diploma or the Jump Start TOPS Tech diploma at the end of their sophomore year based on the Louisiana Department of Education’s plan to implement these pathways to help prepare students for future success.
Fifty Cenla businesses set up interactive exhibits to represent various career clusters. Through participation in SECO, business and community leaders play an active role in helping students make informed career decisions, while making a long-term investment for a better Cenla workforce in the future.
Each year, students participating in SECO vote on their favorite interactive industry displays in each of the four zones. Winners of the 2019 Student Choice Awards were: Zone 1: First Place, Grant High School Emergency Medical Responder Class and MedExpress; Second Place, Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office; Third Place, CHRISTUS Cabrini Hospital; Zone 2: First Place, Louisiana Army National Guard; Second Place, Gilchrist Construction Company and CAT; Third Place, LSUA Dept. of Allied Health; Zone 3: First Place, Procter and Gamble; Second Place, RoyOMartin; Third Place, Hunt Forest Products and LaSalle Lumber Company; Zone 4: First Place, Unitech Training Academy; Second Place, LSUA Dept. of Education; Third Place, Louisiana Workforce Commission Rapides Business and Career Solutions Center.