NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – North Salem High School’s OPTIONS (Opportunities for Professional Training In-and-Out of North Salem) students made their final presentations to fellow students, teachers, parents and community members on Thursday evening.
The goal of the OPTIONS program, a credit-bearing course, is to provide seniors with experience in fields that might interest them as future professions, occupations or trades. Faculty and community mentors help students acquire knowledge and experience in a chosen field, so they can ultimately decide whether they want to pursue it.
After opening remarks in the cafeteria, panelists and moderators reported to various classrooms where they watched a small group of students give their presentations.
Ardiana Mehmetaj found that interning as a volunteer at Valhalla’s Westchester Medical Center was extremely challenging. “It’s a very large facility, so it wasn’t easy to navigate. My job was to comfort people and sometimes that was very hard. There are a lot of high trauma patients there. We had to learn to be discreet and not discuss the patients and their problems.”
Jenna Cardile thought magazine publishing seemed glamorous, so she interned at Westchester Magazine. “I was surprised to see how much time everyone spent at the computer,” she said. “I was a fact-checker for the July “Best of Westchester” issue, so I had to call every single dentist on the list. It was very tedious.” Cardile thinks she is still interested in media, but not in a confined office environment. “Now I know I want a more creative outlet.”
Nicolas DeAngelis was considering architecture, engineering and pharmacy when an opportunity to intern at the Cross River Pharmacy arose. He learned “you need good math skills and a lot of technical savvy and you have to be very discreet.” He was surprised to learn how many prescriptions are filled for animals. During his tenure, he put together an Excel spreadsheet detailing ten medications used frequently by local veterinarians. In the final analysis, DeAngelis felt he learned a lot, but would probably not choose pharmacy as his “prescription for life.”
Basketball player Umar Singh had no doubts about his future. “I love sports and I love helping kids,” he said, so he enlisted North Salem’s Athletic Director, Henry Sassone, as his mentor. “I picked Henry because I love the guy to death and I want to follow in his footsteps. He taught me to ‘go forth and be a man.’ Working with him wasn’t just an internship, it gave me full exposure to the career. I’m grateful to the school for doing OPTIONS.”
Another student without doubts was Henry Sosa, who will study naval architecture at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in September. “I love architecture and I love the water,” he explained. Sosa got an internship with Paul Pasquantonio, a local boat-builder. “I didn’t have enough time to build a boat from scratch, so I refurbished one,” he explained, illustrating with before-and-after pictures and, in fact, the very boat itself. “I spent three-quarters of my time sanding, and I really learned tricks about using sandpaper.”
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