More than 100 students from 13 schools across the are learned about job opportunities during a Job-a-Thon on April 11 at the Pratt County Fairgrounds. Local businesses and various departments brought personnel and equipment for students to learn the variety of job opportunities available in Pratt.

A host of job options was on display for special education students at Job-a-Thon on April 11.

About 100 students from 13 area schools paid visits to booths from numerous area businesses and learned the variety of jobs that were available at each business.

Job-a-Thon, along with Disability Mentoring Day and Advocacy Day, are events for special education students that help them learn what jobs are available and help them decide what they might want to do for their life's work.

The Kansas Department of Education has adapted a vision for the future of Kansas and that's what theses vents are all about.

"These event's are funneled directly into special education," said Gail Boisseau, vocational coordinator for South Central Kansas Special Education Cooperative.

Besides getting to visit with many businesses to find out what job opportunities are available, each student has to go through a mock interview. While the students enjoy meeting with the businesses, they majority says the most practical part of the event is the interview, Boisseau said.

They also benefitted from the mentoring day when they got to go to the businesses and actually see people doing their work. It helped the students understand exactly what was required to do a job and helped them decide if that was what they wanted to do for a living.

"Those things made the biggest difference after high school," Boisseau said.

The chance for students to have several vocational experiences in high school helps the students be more productive and successful after high school.

"The biggest predictor of success is the vocational experience in high school," Boisseau said. "It's a very important stepping stone for these people."

The Job-a-Thon requires a lot of businesses to allow their employees time to get away from work and present their job options to the students. It also takes a lot of time to organize the event and get all the schools and students coordinated.

Besides the businesses, the fire department, the road department, Emergency Medical Services and others take the time to send people and equipment so students can get into the vehicles and see what it's like to operate the equipment.

"We have a tremendous support staff and steering committee that puts on these events," Boisseau said.

Special thanks go out to Miss Kansas 2017 Krystian Fish who was guest speaker for the event and challenged the students to believe in themselves and that they can accomplish what they want in life.

Job-a-Thon was sponsored by Prairie Independent Living Resource Center and the South Central Kansas Special Education Cooperative. The People's Bank was financial sponsor for the event.