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Fifth graders consider career choices
E-Career Fair pic1
Attorney Chris Conowal presents his case against a fifth grade student on Monday as kids learned more about the legal profession at the career fair at Rock Creek Park. - photo by Amy French Dawson County News

"Not guilty," came the verdict from Kilough Elementary fifth graders on Monday.

Dana Fowler's class reached the verdict in record time after deliberating the guilt or innocence of a classmate accused of illegally drinking the last can of Coke from the fridge and trying to hide it.

The case was tried at Rock Creek Park under the direction of attorney Chris Conowal who was one of the presenters at the 11th annual Dawson County fifth grade career fair.

The event is organized each year to help Dawson students begin the process of considering their future career goals.

"This is now a requirement for CCRPI in the state of Georgia," said Robinson Elementary counselor Lance Stiffler. "We also discuss the importance of a good work ethic along with basic character traits that employers are looking for in prospective employees."

Conowal explained to the gathered students that a trial is the process that is used to decide if a person has committed a crime or not.

"It's a pretty exciting job," he told the kids. "It's intense."

He also explained the necessary number of years in school and some basics of practicing law within Georgia.
"It is illegal to eat chicken with a fork in Gainesville," he said.

Students laughed about some of the more absurd laws that have actually been passed before going on to hearing the case of Matthew and the mysterious Coke can.

During the event, fifth grade classes from each of the Dawson elementary schools (roughly 250 studnts)-Black's Mill, Kilough, Riverview and Robinson-made their way through stations in the two gymnasiums, dance room and in front of the Rock Creek complex.

Representatives from Amicalola EMC and Dawson County Emergency Services were stationed outside while representatives from a number of other businesses like Duncan Exterminating, New Life Church of God, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Cronier's Jewelry and the Dawson Humane Society were at stations inside.

Students and their teachers rotated through the stations to learn about the individual businesses and industries as a whole.

Brian Bliss of Liberty Mutual Insurance had his area divided into categories of creative, math, help people, argue and details.

Students were asked to choose a spot based on their own personal traits.

"I need some people who like math," he said, noting that line was empty.

After students filled in, he explained the concept of risk and asked for a definition.

"Something might get messed up?" came one reply.

"Taking a chance," said another fifth grader.

After passing out candy for the answers he then how someone with a creative personality would fit in the insurance industry.

"Like a good neighbor..." he said.

"State Farm is there," came the reply in unison and proof that advertising is an essential part of the insurance industry.

When the students heard from Pastor Mike Owens of New Life Church of God, he explained that whether you enter the ministry or another field, it is important to do what you are called to do.

"In my opinion, she's [teacher] as called to do what they do as I am to what I do," he said. "It's a calling, an overwhelming sense this is what I'm supposed to do."

He then asked students to take a minute and think of something they do really well.

"By fifth grade, we reinforce the connection between academics and the world of work," Stiffler said. "We help students develop a deeper understanding of themselves (interests, strengths, etc.) and how they can use that knowledge to make a good career choice in the future."

Anyone interested in presenting during next spring's career fair can contact the counselor from one of the four elementary schools for more information.