La Conner 8th graders gain insights into occupations with professionals over pizza
The library at La Conner High School was buzzing with questions and conversations between 45 8th graders and 18 adults. They were gathered together for two hours on Wednesday, Jan. 8, to take part in "Pizza with Professionals." 

This first-time event came about through the collaborative efforts of La Conner Schools Superintendent Dr. Whitney Meissner, Counselor Lori Buher and Susan Macek of the La Conner Rotary. The goal was to provide an opportunity for students in middle school to engage with local representatives from a variety of occupations in a friendly, personable atmosphere. Teachers prepped students ahead of time and that included gearing up to ask questions. The Presenters were sorted and seated at tables by career types. Students rotated through all of the tables in small groups. They asked questions, listened intently and were rewarded with friendly, candid answers. Midway through the rotations, there was a pizza break for everyone.  La Conner Rotary supplied the Pioneer Market Pizzas, and all agreed they were delicious!  Following the pizza, students and presenters continued their visits. 
“We were excited to be able to partner with our Rotary Club as we continue to develop career education at the middle school level.  Giving our younger students an opportunity to learn about careers they might not otherwise be exposed to will not only broaden their knowledge about the world of work, but will also help to build excitement and hope for their future”, said counselor Buher.  
8th grader Ray Baker reported, “ It was very interesting to learn about the different kinds of jobs, the Engineer was kind of cool”.  Fellow student Morgan Huizinga added, “I really liked learning about the Public Safety and Medical careers”.
Participants included Nicole Casper, Dean Dan, Jennifer Willup and Todd Mitchell who represented a variety of science and management careers as part of the Swinomish Indigenous Science Program; Carl Buher, a distribution engineer with Puget Sound Energy, Randy Swift, industrial fabricator; Lisa Cantu, veterinarian technician and daughter Gloria Cantu, a freshman at Cal State University at Monterey Bay; Lori Janssen, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Tami Mason, Washington Federal/La Conner; Gina Torpey, owner of Enchanted Locks Hair Salon; Dr. Brianna Wilson, owner of Thrive Direct Health Care; Todd Wigal, training captain with Snohomish County Fire; Devin Lord, Swinomish Police  officer, Annie Avery, Burlington Assistant Fire Marshall; Megan Masonholder, attorney; Kim Pedroza transportation supervisor and Briain Masonholder Maintenance supervisor with La Conner Schools.  “We want to thank everyone for their part in making our first 8th Grade Pizza with Professionals event a success! We look forward to doing this again, next year” enthused Macek at the end of the day.