When students enrolled in the various career pathways at Dalton High School finish their third year of related classes, they complete a state-recognized exam and a real-life, simulation exit interview. The interviews not only test their knowledge and abilities, while giving them interviewing practice, but they also open the door to a real-world professional, available to answer questions about the job.
Professionals in the community volunteer their time to aid with the exit interviews related to their field. Lieutenant Jamie Johnson with the Dalton Police Department said he volunteers as an interviewer for the law and justice pathway because it is important for interested students to get a real picture of what the job looks like.
"As a police officer, you wear many hats – counselor, advice giver, etc. It's not all about the enforcement side of things you see on TV," he said. "Nobody ever told me about what the day-to-day would be like – both the positives and negatives. It's good to have someone that can answer those questions."
Junior Jai'den Montgomery said he has wanted to become a police officer since he was little, which led him to go down the law and justice pathway. He said his interview with Lt. Johnson was not as easy as he thought it would be. "It was more than just a casual conversation; you have to really prepare yourself," he said. "The questions about my strengths and weaknesses surprised me. It's something I will have to think more about."
The pathways give students a jump-start on deciding how they fit into a certain career and preparing for college. Assistant Principal Doug Shults said the pathways are also intended to give students time to change their minds before declaring a major in college, should they decide they do not like it. "It helps seniors figure out their next steps, and it helps juniors fill any gaps we see before they even get to that next step," he said. "It's just as much of a success if the students decide not to go into the field they studied through the pathway they completed."
The pathways at DHS include graphic arts, marketing, early childhood, film and TV production, culinary arts, computer science, entrepreneurship, engineering, architecture and law and justice. Approximately 300 students will go through the exit exam and interview this spring. Students who pass will receive recognition and an added chord with their graduation robe.