Traveling outside Huntington, or even Indiana, to study roller coaster design, electrical engineering, natural resource management, diesel mechanics, meteorology or oncology isn't the typical day in the life of a Huntington North High School student, but for six sophomores participating in the school's new job-shadowing program, these unique experiences have become their own.
Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, the HNHS Career Development Program has required all sophomores to complete an out-of-school job shadowing experience.
Students select and arrange their job shadowing experience based on their personal career goals. The job shadowing can take place through family, friends or other contacts.
Some students have gone above and beyond in completing the program, arranging to job shadow as far away as Cincinnati, OH.
Cameron Stuttle, Walter Hacker, Bethany Bassett, Austin Laux, Tyler Turner and Logan Boyer have each had their own extraordinary experience within the program.
Stuttle spent a day at Indiana's NewsCenter, WPTA-TV 21 Alive ABC. He job shadowed meteorologist Chris Daniels, who is Indiana NewsCenter's meteorologist on INC Today, which airs from 5 to 7 a.m. on channels 21Alive and NBC33.
Stuttle says he arrived at the station during the station's noon broadcast. He was able to sit in the control room and meet some of the news anchors.
He says Daniels showed him how to use the station's Pinpoint VIPIR HD.
"That was pretty fun," he says,
"He (Daniels) showed me how the production of broadcasting gets shown, like the green screen and how he sees and points at everything and the lighting.
"He showed me stuff about weather currents and jet streams and why we had such a warm winter last year compared to this year."
Stuttle says he learned a lot about the field, adding, "What surprised me the most was they had teleprompters and everything is controlled by a little round mouse... and how much work gets put into the control room.
"They do a lot of research, they were making calls during the current show to put on the next show."
He also was able to see cons, as well as pros, of the field.
"I didn't know the hours were that rough. The hours are first, second or third, but third is the 11 p.m. show until about noon," he says.
Stuttle plans to join the Marines after graduating high school, where he would like to become an air traffic controller. He says after completing his service he would like to study meteorology.
Hacker, who traveled the farthest for his job shadowing, went to Cincinnati, OH, to shadow Chad Miller of The Gravity Group, which specializes in wooden roller coaster design and engineering.
Hacker says he is a "big roller coaster guy."
He found out about the company after reading about Miller in Ohio Northern University's magazine. Miller is a graduate of the school, and was featured in an article in the publication.
Hacker made contact with Miller by email and set up his job shadowing experience.
Hacker says, "I watched him design a new braking system for a new roller coaster.
"We went to the warehouse and did a test of strength on a certain bar, and then worked on a preliminary sketch of a roller coaster that he is going to do sometime."
Hacker says The Gravity Group has designed roller coasters that are located all over the world, even as far away as China.
The closest coaster is located at Holiday World in Indiana and is called The Voyager.
"I have been interested in roller coasters and mechanical engineering in general. I think after high school I want to go to an engineering school," says Hacker.
Bassett job shadowed at the IUPUI medical center in Indianapolis. She followed Dr. Nasser Hanna, oncologist.
"I went with him and I looked at patient's MRI scans, and I went to where patients come to get a checkup or a diagnosis or prognosis of their cancer," she says,
"I met some lung cancer patients, a testicular cancer patient, someone who had thyroid cancer, and someone who had breast cancer," she continues.
"After that I went to the oncology ward, which is where they have inpatient stays where they need prolonged immediate care, and I saw where they give chemotherapy; it is like a separate room off of the hospital."
She says she also went to a meeting where doctors discussed their patients' medicine and treatments, and whether or not to send patients to hospice.
Bassett says she learned that "hospice is not really the last place you can go before you die, it's just so you're most comfortable before you die."
Bassett chose to job shadow at IUPUI because she lost her grandmother and cousin to lung cancer.
"I just don't really want to see people to have to suffer through that like we did," she says.
Hanna was her cousin's doctor, and he introduced Bassett to a world renowned oncologist.
She also met Chuck Pagano, head coach for the Indianapolis Colts, who was diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia.
Bassett says Pagano told her of his disease, "It's really hard to go through it, but it's not something that should hold you back."
Laux spent a day with his father, a diesel mechanic at Jack Cooper Transport in Waynedale.
Laux says, "Everything on a diesel vehicle is like a regular vehicle but everything is bigger and heavier."
He says he learned it is very expensive to get set up in that job.
"You can expect bills for tools to reach up to $60,000 and you are expected to have all your own tools for the job."
He helped his father change brakes on a semi. Laux says the brake parts weigh 120 pounds by themselves.
"It tends to be time consuming because you have to maneuver everything. You have to know what you are doing and you have to have the right education to do it," he says of the job.
For Laux, his job shadowing experience reaffirmed what he already knew.
"I wanted to go to school to become an auto diesel mechanic anyways ... this just makes me want to go that much more."
Turner spent time at General Motors in Fort Wayne, where he job shadowed Kevin Mickley, electrical engineer.
"He showed me around the plant, and all the lines that work on the truck," he says.
"There are a lot of lines."
Turner says he got to observe Mickley fixing a computer error in one of the systems, and he watched him fix a mechanical arm that installs dashboards into cars.
He says he also was able to control one of the mechanical arms that installs hubcaps onto vehicles.
Turner says he learned a lot about the profession, such as what to expect and how he would spend his time.
He also says he learned that the job is very hands-on and was surprised that to be an electrical engineer you "have to be able to work with people.""
Boyer has not yet completed his job shadowing, but when he does he will visit Chain O' Lakes State Park in Albion and observe Sam Boggs, park superintendent.
Boyer was inspired to job shadow at the park after he completed his Eagle Scout project there, he says.
"One of the best jobs you can do outside has to be state parks. They're our last big wooded areas," he notes.
Boyer says after high school he would like to study natural resource management, and Boggs has recommended that Boyer apply to Ball State University.
"I hunt, fish, camp; I like to be outside," he says.
"This job would be a job I would consider."
Huntington North sophomores who have not completed their job shadowing have until April 1 to do so.
Area businesses have been happy to accommodate students that are interested in job shadowing, says Steve Schenkel, director of adult education for the Huntington County Community School Corporation.
Complete caption: Huntington North High School sophomores (front row from left) Cameron Stuttle, Walter Hacker, Bethany Bassett and (back row from left) Austin Laux, Tyler Turner and Logan Boyer have had unique experiences during their required job shadowing. The HNHS Career Development Program has required all sophomores to complete an out-of-school job shadowing experience, beginning with this school year.