This year, Communities in Schools, Franklin County Development Council, Ottawa High School and a number of other entities and volunteers have put together an incredible opportunity for our senior students: a “Day on the Job.” 

The Jan. 9 event will provide our students with a greater understanding of Ottawa’s workforce needs in their areas of interest, along with helping them understand what education and training is needed in order for them to be successful in those areas.

The event also will provide a greater understanding of the incredible amount of high-wage, high-demand job opportunities there are right here in Ottawa.

That morning, students will participate in two of the three module programs. The first module will contain information about public employment in Ottawa and will be lead by Wynndee Lee, director of planning and codes administration for the City of Ottawa. City and county public sector representatives will discuss the workforce needs, desired attributes of that workforce and the educational aspects needed for the opportunity to move up within the organization.

The second module will focus on employment in the field of health care. Ransom Memorial Hospital representatives Sue Martin and Merilee Queen will be helping our students understand the many facets of medical health care. Diane Drake, executive director of the Elizabeth Layton Center for Hope and Guidance, will be there to discuss the mental health side of this field of employment. Our students will be looking at areas that are beyond the staple of nursing and doctoring. A major purpose of this trip is to open up the idea that if our students want to be in health care there are a vast number of options for them to achieve their dreams and have success in this field.  

The third module in the morning will center on private employment. Franklin County Development Council representatives Jeff Seymour and Blaine Finch will be leading this group. Students will be divided into two groups and will have the opportunity to meet with Josh Walker (Lloyd Builders), Dave Rossman (Performance Electric), Lori Smith (Arvest Bank), Ryan Henningson (Edward Jones) Mike Skidmore (Goppert State Service Bank), Joe Goedert (Kansas State Bank), Sandy Howard (Peoples Bank), Scott Cooper (Patriot’s Bank), the Keim Family (Keim’s Bakery), Shawn Turner (Turner’s Florist) as well as a number of other private sector employers. 

The purpose of this group is to display not only the needs of the private employment sector but also to showcase the value they have in our community, and the opportunity this area has for growth.

After a lunch provided by “A Cup Above,” our students will then have access to the manufacturing module at Kalmar and American Eagle Outfitters. This module will spotlight the number of positions held at both of these locations, including such positions that need a minimum degree of a bachelor’s in engineering. American Eagle, Kalmar, and you could include a number of other manufacturing sites not included on this particular event such as Midwest Cabinets and Wal-Mart Distribution Center, offer a number of different employment opportunities for our students and the Ottawa community.  

OHS students will finish the day with a reception in the Ottawa University Student Union. There they will receive a gift bag and hear some final words of encouragement from Finch, Mayor Blake Jorgensen and Derek Chappell. There also will be booths for local businesses to set up employment information for our students to take with them. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those involved in making the Senior Day on the Job come to fruition. 

I believe this opportunity will help our student body understand the many fantastic employment opportunities our community has, as well as help our local employers understand what our Ottawa High School students have to offer them.

Dr. Ryan Cobbs is principal at Ottawa High School. Email him at or call (785) 229-8020.