NEW ALBANY — A fair at Prosser Career Education Center offered local students a glimpse into the career and educational opportunities available after high school.

Prosser’s annual Options Day took place Friday for juniors and seniors. The outdoor fair featured about 60 “vendors,” or representatives from the military, colleges and various industries.

“We’ve got post-secondary institutions, we’ve got military, we’ve got jobs and apprenticeships all here for our kids,” Prosser Principal Nancy Campbell said. “The kids will walk from station to station, and the idea is for them to think about that next step and also to think about what they are currently getting here at Prosser — how that can lead into the next step.”

Campbell said she noticed some students being offered jobs or job applications at Friday’s event, as well as opportunities to apply for scholarships.

Emory Jones, career education coordinator at Prosser, said the fair allows current students to see opportunities given to Prosser alumni.

“Not only is this a great opportunity for students to meet business contacts and potentially get job offers, but it is also a special day for us, because we get to see alumni — Prosser graduates — promoting their businesses,” she said. “It’s a great way to highlight our successful alumni who are coming back and giving back to our school, and it’s letting students see where their skills can take them.”

Christian Leadingham, a 2020 Prosser graduate, now works for the Porsche department of Bluegrass Motorsports in St. Matthews, and he returned to the school Friday to teach students about the business and show off some of the sports cars featured at the dealer. He studied automative services at Prosser.

He actually met representatives from Bluegrass Motorsport at Options Day in 2019, and the fair played a major role in getting him to where he is today, and he received training from the company before landing his job.

“Kids are always talking about what they want to do after school,” he said. “Whatever you want to actually do in this field is completely possible as long as you try and learn everything you can about the field you want to be in, try to be the best you can and apply yourself to it. And if you find the right employer, they’ll value that.”

Strandz Salon & Threadz Boutique in New Albany was among the local businesses represented at the fair. Sisters Stefanie Griffith, Julie Young and Stacy Tunnell own the salon, and all three attended Prosser.

Griffith said she wanted to show students “the importance of education and the opportunities we have here at home.”

“We’ve got a lot of good local businesses, and Prosser is awesome — we’re sitting on a gem in our backyard.”

Christy Snip, student affairs administrator at Purdue Polytechnic New Albany, spoke to students about programs at the college, including electrical, industrial and mechanical engineering.

“We feel like our campus deals directly with the type of things that Prosser students are learning,” she said. “They’ve been amazing, and we’ve had a lot of interaction.”

Campbell said even if a student is studying one industry at Prosser, they can explore other options at the fair.

“We could have a kid in a welding class, but they go up to maybe somebody in the military or somebody in health care and be like, that interests me,” she said.

The labor shortage is one of the factors businesses hope to address by educating high school students about job opportunities within the community, Campbell said.

Options Day is the “first step” in showing students what is available to them, she said, and at the end of the year, Prosser seniors participate in Signing Day, which is an occasion for students to declare their plans after high school, whether it is college, military or the workforce.

The fair is a way for students to get their “foot in the door,” Jones said.

“It’s a great way for them to meet these business partners and business owners and brag about their skills and see, are you hiring, what kind of work do you do — ask those questions,” she said.

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