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West Mifflin Area students get job, career advice at Prosperity Fair

| Friday, April 12, 2013, 3:51 a.m.
At the booth sponsored by American Judo-Hapkido in Clairton, Averi Whiddon, 9, of West Mifflin gives a shot at 'Plinko' to win free judo lessons.
Mathias Rushin, an eighth-grader at West Mifflin Area Middle School, spins the wheel to win prizes at the Dave & Busters booth.
After trying a few samples, Charlene Newkerk of Homestead purchases a few bottles of homemade sauce from pitmaster Chris Ransome at BBQ Stu's booth.
Shane Morrissey, a West Mifflin Area High School junior, shows off a cool custom phone case to Keartin, Carson and Jessica VanDyke of West Mifflin. The cases are custom made by the high school's Graphics Club.

Finding a job or career opportunity can be a challenge at any age, let alone when one is in high school.

Students at West Mifflin Area High School got a lesson from professionals on how to do so on Thursday when members of the Mon Yough Chamber of Commerce visited the school for its second annual Prosperity Fair.

The two-stage event featured a students-only career seminar in the afternoon, followed by a public session in the evening showcasing area businesses.

Banks, a bike shop and martial arts studios were among the presenters.

Charles M. Bennett of First Commonwealth Bank appreciated having the opportunity to talk with graduating students about what they'll do with the rest of their lives.

“I think they were very receptive,” said Bennett, who spoke with a group of about 50 students earlier in the afternoon. “They're nervous about what to expect when they get out of school.”

Bennett said he and other business owners answered questions about how to dress for a job interview and keys to professional presentation. Bennett said he told students that they should surround themselves with positive people when they get to college.

Ray Schon, a State Farm agent and vice president of the chamber, told students to find a career path that involves doing something they love to do and to find a mentor.

Businesses used the evening event as an opportunity to connect with the public and other businesses.

Third-degree black belt martial arts instructor Dane Jenkins represented John Beluschak's American Judo-Hapkido Institute based in Clairton. He said martial arts has much to offer young and old alike.

“Kids aren't confident enough these days,” Jenkins said.

He told his audience that a regular regimen of martial arts training could help build confidence that leads to greater success in school, and contributes to general good health and helps fight obesity.

There were many health service providers at the fair.

Stephen A. Vargo III of White Oak Dental Associates LLC said it was good seeing communities come together to support local businesses.

There were plenty of free samples to go around.

Stu BBQ Inc. owner Stu Wilson, for example, had a tray of his four barbecue sauces out for tasting.

“We just wanted to let people know our product is there,” said Wilson, who lives in McKeesport.

Paul Ruhl saw the fair as an opportunity to connect with people interested in participating in the Relay for Life of McKeesport on Aug. 10, which benefits the American Cancer Society.

Again this year, the Air Force Jr. ROTC program at the high school was involved with promoting and setting up for the fair.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or

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