The operation? Preparation!

Operation Preparation is a career exploration program that connects eighth grade students to mentors in their planned field.

Whitney Watercutter, Rowan County Middle School Youth Services Center director, says the school has received positive feedback about the program from teachers, students, and participating community partners, which confirms the program is one the school should continue.

Over the course of a couple of months, students meet with mentors in small groups, which allows students to ask questions about the field they are interested in, without feeling intimidated.

“Operation preparation teaches employability skills and gets students thinking about their futures,” says Watercutter.

Eighth grade students are currently participating in the program and are expected to complete it in the next few weeks.

There were 14 speakers who met with students in January.

“I want to thank the speakers for investing in the futures of students and for taking the time out of their busy schedules to talk with our students,” said Watercutter.

January speakers included Ashley Adkins, Scott Barker, Mark Cline, Nick Diedrichsen, Tyler Elam, Billy Goldsmith, Nova Hayden, Tim James, Katie Lee, Lucy Moore, Cameron Planck, Joshua Quillen, Megan Smedley, and Glen Teager.

Watercutter says Randy Wallace was also critical in helping with scheduling and making contacts.

Wallace serves as the Community Education Director for the district.

Operation Preparation takes the top career choices based upon each student’s Individual Learning Plan (ILP) and then seeks to match students with a volunteer from the community who work in similar careers.

Students talked to law enforcement officers, cosmetologists, and entertainers, among other professionals.

College and career readiness is designed to ensure every student is prepared for college and/or career by the time they graduate from high school, and is one of the measures on which schools and districts are assessed as part of the state’s current accountability system.

Students district-wide participate in unique programs to prepare them for their futures.

For more information about each school’s college and career readiness strategy, contact the individual school.

Megan Smedley can be reached at or by telephone at 784-4116.

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