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Suwannee County Fire Rescue Captain J.C. Jimenez talks with a student at the career fair.

LIVE OAK — RIVEROAK Technical College’s Program Showcase and Career Fair looked a little different than in year’s past.

Rather than packing the front of RTC, this year’s showcase moved inside the school thanks to the threat of inclement weather.

While crowded in places, Tracy Henderson — adult education teacher at RTC and the event organizer — said it was a hit.

“I think it’s the best one we’ve ever had with the most participants, the most organizations we’ve ever had,” said Henderson as 50 outside agencies attended in addition to RIVEROAK showcasing all 19 of its programs.

“We still had a great turnout. It was fabulous.”

Among the RTC programs, surgical technology’s classroom is set up like it was an actual surgery, while the pharmacy technician program has a classroom that looks like one walked into a real pharmacy.

Henderson said the welding technology program actually was allowing visiting students to weld during the showcase while cosmetology students were working on real clients throughout the day.

“That was pretty cool,” Henderson said of the showcase. “People were saying, ‘We didn’t know you had all this here.’”

The change in plans due to the weather did mean there was no K-9 demonstration like in previous years. But Peggy Hickey with Florida Gateway College’s K-9 training facility did bring four dogs with her, including Lafayette County’s K-9 officer and Suwannee County’s K-9 officer.

The Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office also brought out its SWAT gear, or “toys” as Henderson said they called them.

“The students loved that,” she noted. “They got to put on the vest. I got to put on the vest.

“That was awesome.”

The awesome turnout, which included students from Suwannee and Hamilton County schools, and the success of the showcase means some elements will likely be repeated next year, even if weather isn’t an issue.

Henderson said the “bells and whistles,” namely the big equipment from the military outfits and first responders will be showcased outside.

However, the vendors will have the option to go inside.

“It was a delightful day,” she said.

Jamie Wachter is the editor of the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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