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Newton County Schools held its fifth Career Expo for high school students, hosted for the fourth year by DeKalb Technical College, Wednesday morning and afternoon.

Several colleges, branches of the U.S. military and local public safety organizations, among others, sent representatives to speak with the students about their fields.

Almond Turner, assistant chief of the Covington Police Department and Newton County Board of Education chairman, attended the expo on behalf of the police department. He said career expos are important to any community that wants to retain highly skilled students after they graduate.

"It gives the students an opportunity to see what careers are available here and to talk with the people involved in those careers," Turner said.

Turner added career fairs are vital in inspiring students who may not have an idea of what they want to do or helping students finalize a decision for the post-secondary studies.

James Young, senior at Newton High School, said he plans to become a deputy for the Newton County Sheriff's Office. He has a family member in the field, who helped him look at payment options.

"They'll [NCSO] pay for most of my college and it's [DTC] right across the street pretty much," Young said.

Newton High sophomore Melody Mitchell said she wants to study nursing or some branch of medicine. She said the expo was beneficial to her because she learned about a week-long summer camp for high school students wanting to study nursing or medicine.  Mitchell said she had not given much thought to whether she wanted to stay in Newton County after she obtains a degree.

"Maybe," Mitchell said. "If the job was right."

NCSS Youth Apprenticeship Coordinator Cynthia Marvel said the expo grows every year with more students attending and more organizations participating by sharing information.

She said the expo is open to all high school students in the county.

"We know students need more career awareness before their junior and senior years," Marvel said.

According to Marvel, exploring the world of work before the end of high school helps students make more knowledgeable decisions about courses to take in high school as well as which schools to look into for post-secondary education.

"Our teachers and our department chairs have done a great job of getting the message out to students," Marvel said, "and we have just great community participation."