Friday, May 24, 2024

Cascade High School brings back career fair with local emphasis


LEAVENWORTH – On Apr. 17, Cascade High School (CHS) students were given the opportunity to pick the brains of professionals during the school’s career fair, which included a professional skier and Grammy Award-winning vocalist.

“We thought because we have this really eclectic community with a lot of depth and breadth to the things that they can do, that we would be a really great candidate for doing [a career fair], and it would give kids a lot of opportunity to learn about different careers and things that they want to do from people who actually live here and actually do it,” said CHS College and Career Counselor Amy Rieke.

The career fair featured 33 professionals in a variety of categories, such as a doctor, firefighter, detective, graphic designer, and investment banker. Speakers also came out from local businesses such as Alpine Fitness, Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, and Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort. Students also got the chance to hear about the music industry from Grammy And Diamond Award- winning vocalist Michael “The Wanz” Wansley, who sang the hook for “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

About ten speakers were CHS alumni, such as architect Todd Smith of Syndicate Smith, who graduated in 1998, and a general contractor who graduated in 2012. 

“It’s those connections that we're trying to show, like, “Look, these are not only actual careers for you, but these are actual careers that you can bring back to this town and be part of the workforce and continue to live there…It's a place that everyone wants to come back to,” said Rieke.

Before CHS staff started organizing the event, Rieke administered a school-wide survey to better understand which professions students were most interested in pursuing. Professional sports, fire sciences, construction and early education were some of the most popular choices. Due to the nature of the area, students also expressed heavy interest in outdoor jobs.

“We tried to go out and find someone that was either in that career field or loosely tied to that career field,” said Rieke.

Rieke recruited an avalanche forecaster and chairlift mechanic, as well as professional skier Ingrid Backstrom.

“It's awesome talking to the kids. It's cool to see people's enthusiasm, and I feel super honored to be here. I hope that what kids get out of it is just that there's a lot of different ways to be a professional athlete, I think especially with social media. And sports are just so big right now in our society that I think they can really pick and choose and do whatever. There's no one right or wrong way to do it,” said Backstrom. 

The students were able to attend 25-minute sessions with four professionals of their choosing, and completed an exit review at the end of the day. According to Rieke, Cascade’s Career & Technical Education program is collaborating with some of the speakers, such as Executive Chef Micah Windham of Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, to hire and develop a workforce of CHS students and graduates.

Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or


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